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Hidden Gems: Meet Mallory Mooneyhan of Neon Kitchen

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mallory Mooneyhan. 

Hi Mallory, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
When I originally moved to the Portland, TN area around 2005, I mentioned how this little town needs an Italian restaurant. After living here for about 15 years off and on, someone hadn’t opened one. So, I did. Italian food is my favorite type of food, as well as a favorite cuisine for other people. So, my husband and I started thinking about it, and we decided to go for it. We started our business out of a food truck. We served mainly in the Sumner County area. We set up at events, office parks, neighborhoods, etc. Our customers enjoyed our food, but the main feedback we received was, “we wish you were in a restaurant”. So, we started to look for a brick-and-mortar location. After being in our food truck for 6 months, we found a building we could move into. We kept the name, Neon Kitchen because that’s what the communities knew us by, The name Neon Kitchen was created when our son said, why don’t we name it Electric Kitchen? And we liked it, but my husband came up with Neon Kitchen, and the name just stuck. It’s pretty catchy and we were able to incorporate the neon colors into our logo, décor, and to-go instruments. Once we signed the lease and had the keys to our new location, we got straight to work on getting the permits and licensing needed, as well as set up the restaurant how we wanted it. We went with a funky/cool and family-friendly vibe. It took us about 2 weeks and we opened our restaurant on October 15. The support we have received from the Portland community is amazing. We have customers that ate from our food truck coming by, new customers. The feedback on our food is pretty positive. We have a couple of customers that have quickly become regulars and come and see us almost daily. I am excited to be in Portland, and we just cannot wait for what the future holds for us. 

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
Oh goodness, it’s been a pretty bumpy road actually. I come from an office/business background, so running a restaurant is new to me. But I am stubborn and when I get my mind stuck on something, I will learn and research everything I can to figure it out and succeed. I have also had help from my husband, both my children, and our families and friends. I would NOT have been able to do any of this without them. 

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Neon Kitchen?
We are a family-run Italian restaurant. I make all the sauces and soups from scratch. My mantra is, if I won’t eat it, I won’t serve it to you. Our food is made fresh to order as well. We use high-quality ingredients and we strive to make sure every item we serve tastes good and is filling. 

Can you share something surprising about yourself?
Something surprising, Well… Most people would find that I honestly am not a fan of cooking. Nor do I have a background in cooking. However, when it comes to cooking Italian food and being able to experiment with ingredients, I truly do enjoy it. Italian food is different from a lot of cuisines in my option. You can use so many different spices and flavors and come up with amazing sauces and dishes. And who doesn’t love pasta? 

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1 Comment

  1. Cathy

    November 19, 2021 at 9:30 pm

    Love and so proud of you all.
    The food is fabulous.

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