The word "persistence" comes to mind as Alysia Davey describes the three-year journey that she and her fiance, Ryan Anderson, have taken in opening Zomo, their new Vietnamese-American restaurant at 3457 South Broadway in downtown Englewood. "Ryan and I can truly call this restaurant ours, but we couldn't have done it without all of our family," Davey says.
In spring 2016, the couple took over the vacant restaurant space that had been El Tepehuan (which relocated a block south) for forty years. As first-time restaurateurs, they tackled every aspect of the renovation themselves. Anderson is a mechanical engineer, so he, along with his father (also an engineer) oversaw the design plans, and also learned how to weld stainless steel, among other skills required to save money during the long process. Davey became adept at design software and created everything from the wicker light fixtures above each table to the faux-bamboo decorations made from copper pipe left over from the bathroom installation. She even created the working abacus patio dividers on the plaza outside the restaurant.
Much of Zomo's menu comes from Davey's grandmother, Chi Nguyen (everyone just calls her Ma), who once had her own restaurant in Kansas and was previously the chef at Pho Golden in Golden. Everything is made from scratch, from the pho broth simmered for hours in an eighty-gallon steam kettle to the pâté on the banh mi bites (traditional banh mi served open-faced like bruschetta). Davey has been working on a recipe for making her own baguettes, but for now she's sourcing bread from other Vietnamese bakeries.
The menu is small right now, and dishes are labeled in English and Vietnamese. Traditional items include spring rolls, green papaya salad, bun (noodle) bowls, and Ba's shrimp skewers, based on her grandfather's recipe. But there's also a house burger that can be ordered "classic" or "Viet-style," along with a side of hand-cut taro fries. A menu expansion is in the works, which could include the Vietnamese-American meatloaf (made with glass noodles in the mix) Davey grew up eating, and banh xeo "tacos," which will be traditional Vietnamese crepes made in handheld size. Midwestern touches include Jell-O cake and apple-pie egg rolls for dessert.
Zomo was in soft-opening mode last week, but will be fully up and running this week, with lunch and dinner hours starting at 11 a.m. daily. Call 720-739-8882 for more details.