The Cambodian restaurant, located on a corner near the Georgetown Square, opened March 20–four days before the Williamson County stay-at-home order was issued. The restaurant was planned for over a year as Champa and her three brothers in Cambodia worked to build a menu representative of the country’s traditional foods.
“We were just crushed,” Jim said.
He said since the restaurant was already going to lose money, they might as well open and lose money than stay at home and worry.
"The last thing I wanted to do was not start the people that we promised jobs to—thereby making the situation even worse," he said.
As soon as the restaurant knew it was limited to carryout orders, Jim signed up with every local delivery service. He said it was great to see the community order from the restaurant and give them a shot.
Mango Tango opened its dining room May 1 with a limit of 10 people, and Jim said more outdoor tables were added to seat more customers.
The menu pulls from Champa’s experience as a good cook and translates Asian cuisine into American culture, Jim said. One dish, Pasta Cambodia, comes with royal roots. Noodles are topped with a fried egg to keep the food warm when traditionally served to kings and queens as a sign of respect.
The restaurant’s historic location brought unplanned challenges. The owners originally sought a former restaurant that had restaurant basics for a quick, simple open. Instead, they found a 100-year-old building without plumbing or electricity and with past uses such as a salon and car dealership showroom.
“We did everything from scratch the hard way,” Jim said.
The owners live in Georgetown and describe it as a small, friendly town with people who wave “hi” and businesses that support each other. They knew Georgetown was the place to start their restaurant. While the dining room was still closed, the restaurant found time to donate almost 300 meals to Sandwiches for Saints, a program that provides meals to front-line hospital workers.
Champa and Jim often met friends at places that lift spirits with music and good drinks. That was their goal in building Mango Tango.
“We strove to open a place that we would be proud to call ‘one of those places,’” Jim said.
Mango Tango Bistro and Bar
114 E. Seventh St., Ste. 116, Georgetown