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The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

100th Monkey Cafe shares space with Vietnamese restaurant

The restaurants 100th Monkey Cafe and Books and The Lantern operate in tandem out of their downtown location on Fifth Street. Photo credit: Zach Aucella

Chico is known for its tight-knit community, school pride and acceptance of various cultures.

A local business is embracing such traits through a series of tactics that are increasing the popularity of the establishment. 100th Monkey Cafe and Books is introducing downtown Chico to a form of culinary cohesion by sharing its glory with another restaurant: The Lantern.

Jill Lacefield, owner of 100th Monkey Cafe and Books, and her employees thrive under the philosophy “everyone has a place at the table.” In light of this philosophy, the restaurant uses a donation-only method as the primary form of payment. This generosity extends to Chico residents and students of all budgets, along with businesses such as The Lantern.

“Here at 100th Monkey we want to ensure the quality of our store and satisfaction of our customers. We live up to our motto by subleasing this very location to a chef of Vietnamese cuisine, Quyen Nguyen,” Lacefield said. “Together we can enhance the quality of the space and ensure our customers are comfortable in their surroundings.”

Both 100th Monkey Cafe and Books and The Lantern are currently being run by different owners, but in the same location with different hours.

100th Monkey Cafe and Books operates:

  • Monday through Saturday – 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Lantern operates:

  • Tuesday and Wednesday – 4 p.m. to 9 p.m
  • Thursday – 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Friday and Saturday – 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Sunday – 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Nguyen, owner of The Lantern, was born and raised in Vietnam until the age of 18. After coming to the U.S., she attended UC Berkley while frequently cooking her country’s traditional dishes. After graduating with a degree in business she set out to accomplish a goal she had set for herself years before even attending college.

Nguyen moved to Chico and began searching for possible locations to begin her career. After thorough research and visits to possible locations, Nguyen stumbled upon an ad on Craigslist. A small cafe located at Fifth and Ivy streets was offering to lease out the space to someone who was willing to share the location.

Nguyen contacted Lacefield and a day later they were in agreement and organizing weekly hours for each business.

“We’ve served many visitors from the Bay Area and other parts of California who all love the way we prepare our food and maintain a cultural relevance,” Nguyen said. “This location has the potential to influence business owners and food lovers in a very unique fashion. A goal of ours is to introduce Chico and its visitors to traditional and homemade Vietnamese food.”

Lacefield not only helped a promising chef, but also introduced a possible business plan that other local restaurants and cafes may consider replicating. Now that Nguyen has settled into her new culinary home she can proceed with cooking and serving the Vietnamese dishes she loves to prepare.

“It’s worked really well. Two restaurants under one roof sounds tough, but we work in harmony,” Nguyen said. “After two months in this location we have noticed a weekly increase in customers as well as interest among the members of the community and college.”

Blaine Ball can be reached at [email protected] or @BlaineHBall on Twitter.

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