10 Asian-Owned Businesses to Experience During Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and Year ‘Round
May not only brings spring flowers, but the beginning of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. We hope you’ll join @properties Christie’s International Real Estate in celebrating as we highlight 10 of the many Asian-owned businesses that contribute to the Chicago area’s enduring appeal.
Co-owned by Jay Kim and Daniel Aquino, Coffee Lab in Evanston is just a five-minute walk from Northwestern’s campus and is known for its roasted specialty “pour-over” style coffee. In homage to their Asian roots, Kim and Aquino serve a variety of homemade artisan pastries influenced by Filipino, Korean, and Japanese recipes. Patrons are encouraged to relax, stay, and enjoy the freshly roasted espresso and butter mochi cakes.
Jenni Vee founded her namesake bakery after immigrating from the Philippines and fulfilling a lifelong dream of incorporating traditional American sweets alongside Filipino cakes and pastries in her very own patisserie. Situated in East Lakeview, Jennivee’s Bakery is a favorite spot among locals to indulge in dessert and coffee while enjoying the elegant, yet cozy atmosphere.
A fixture in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood, Ed Marszewski is an entrepreneur who got his start tending bar for his Korean mother. Taking inspiration from a community bar and his love of craft beers, he established Marz Community Brewing Company in 2013 and has been perfecting his ales ever since. Marz also prides himself on giving back to the community and supports a range of cultural advocacy groups.
Known for its signature flavor Ube Bae, made with a Filipino sweet potato, Milky Milky Ice Cream brings delectable homemade, small batch ice cream to the Ravenswood area. Jojo Ybe founded the specialty shop in 2020 when she began churning unique flavors in her own kitchen. Today, her online shop opens on Mondays for orders that can be picked up curbside or delivered within the surrounding area on Saturdays. Be sure to follow Milky Milky on Instagram to get a sneak peek on what flavors are dropping!
Leah Kim leveraged her extensive knowledge of skin care to create Choc Choc Cosmetics over six years ago. Based in Lakeview, Choc Choc curates the best of innovative Korean skincare and make up that will have you looking your best.
Distinct Bath & Body began as a labor of love for store owner Sam Davis when he began experimenting with homemade soaps and lotions for his own sensitive, allergy prone skin. He now specializes in cold pressed soaps, body butters, bath bombs, and scrubs using locally sourced, plant-based ingredients. Located in Portage Park, Davis’ product lines are made in small batches using seasonal scents with the goal of providing quality earth-friendly goods that are also free of artificial colors and harmful chemicals.
A Chicago-based online company that sells lifestyle wear for men and women, My E Three stands for Empower, Enlighten, and Encourage — the core values that Filipino owners Michele and Andy Rivera look to embody in their business. True to their mission, the Riveras pivoted their business when the pandemic hit and began designing and selling face coverings for underprivileged populations. To date, they have donated over 1,000 masks to health workers in the Philippines.
Qideas Plants and Gifts is a Chinese American-owned family business that has been a part of the Edgewater community for over ten years. Started by Ellen Duong, who maintains a passion for plants, the retail and wholesale store specializes in eclectic varietals including bonsai trees, succulents, terrariums, as well as seasonal specialties. Qideas provides beautiful botanicals for both commercial and residential clients.
A favorite spot for dining in Naperville, Shinto Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Lounge is a family-owned restaurant that has been serving locals for more than a decade. Xiaona Lu, who owns the restaurant with her husband Ron Huang, prides herself on delivering a truly authentic culinary and cultural experience where guests can enjoy the sushi bar or a hibachi-style dinner that provides mesmerizing entertainment.
The unexpected flavor combination of Asian-Mexican fusion food has successfully come to life in Chicago’s River North, Hyde Park, and Wicker Park neighborhoods, as well as in downtown Naperville. Seoul Taco owner David Choi has capitalized on the ever-growing popularity of Korean food and offers dishes inspired by his childhood, including Kimchi Fried Rice, Burritos, Tacos, and Gogi Bowls. Each location is uniquely designed with the help of local artists who incorporate a community flair into the atmosphere.