When Mona Kettavhong emigrated from Laos in 2007, she only knew one other person living in the United States.
“I wanted to come here for a couple of years, and now I don’t want to go back,” Mona says, letting out a cheerful laugh in the sun-drenched dining room of her restaurant, Mona’s Super Noodle. Mona opened the Laos-inspired restaurant in February of 2021 on a high-trafficked corner in the bustling neighborhood of Hampden.
“I decided to open this for a long time, but it’s very hard to open a restaurant,” she pauses. “If you don’t do it right … you’re done.”
Mona, a nickname given by her grandmother, spent the last 15 years working in restaurants before opening Mona’s Super Noodle with her own savings. Her restaurant has become a popular spot in the neighborhood over the last two years. On any given night you might find Mona filling in any role at the restaurant, but she shines in customer service.
When not rushing around, she can be seen sharing a laugh with a customer, playing peek-a-boo with a young diner, or making sure her patrons are happy. It’s hard to imagine Mona not surrounded by an adoring community of supporters. The dining room is typically full at dinner and takeout bags line the counter waiting for pickups, but bringing the restaurant to reality was a long road.