Episode 071: Mary Nguyen Aregoni

Mary Nguyen Aregoni received her BBA in Marketing from Xavier University in 1989 and her MSBA in International Business from Johns Hopkins University in 1994.

Ms. Aregoni has a notable background as an IT Systems Manager with a 20 year career working for Procter & Gamble (1989-2009) working in various locations such as Chicago, New York, Brussels, Cincinnati and Baltimore. Mary decided she wanted to fulfill a dream of owning her own business and she wanted to have a restaurant where she could share her Vietnamese heritage with others. A restaurant where a diner could engage in food travel tourism through delectable Southeast Asian cuisine specifically Vietnamese and Thai.

In 2009 she launched her restaurant Saigon Sisters which was also the year when the economic climate was not conducive to new ventures Mary knew her background in corporate strategy, marketing and analytics would serve her well combined with the support of her encouraging mother, sister and husband. Mary began the realization of her dream.

Having spent her early years in the war-torn country of Vietnam where her Mother and Grandmother were once successful business women Mary as a child fled with her family to Thailand. Eventually they made their way to the U.S. where they had to start over. They had nothing except for drive, determination and the ability to adapt. Mary was taught that having a strong foundation was crucial for building a life of possibilities and as such Education and Knowledge were key components. Mary feels it is really about having a mental mindset that you will succeed. Fear is not an option. It is about knowing the risks and managing them. It is a privilege to do what you want in life. It’s not easy being an entrepreneur, it is critical to be prepared, have the upfront capital, know that there will be long hours and accept that there will be failure but know how to navigate the hard times and above all know that you can’t do it alone. You need support. With a restaurant it is about having the right team, the food, the ambience, knowing your customers. knowing what they want, need in a dining experience and Marketing. People need to know who you are.

These are the reasons that in an extremely difficult business sector coupled with challenging economic conditions Mary Nguyen Aregoni has thrived. Saigon Sisters which offers fast casual dining and catering services from its three locations across Chicago including: French Market, Lake Street, Northwestern Memorial and the much anticipated O’Hare airport location. She also recently launched a new brand Bang Chop Thai Kitchen last year which serves authentic Thai cuisine also in downtown Chicago.

Since opening day in 2009 Saigon Sisters, Chicagoans have embraced the pho (soup), spring rolls, banh mi (sandwiches), and more. The famed Michelin Guide and Zagat rave over the cuisine. Saigon Sisters has won numerous accolades and Mary Nguyen Aregoni has shown once again that hard work, being authentic, and following your dream is possible if you really believe in yourself and your products.