By Craig Chapman
You may have heard a buzz lately about a small, “you have to go there the food is amazing!” place called Chez Quan’s, an unlikely little spot in Brevard County in a location off Aurora Road. The food really is amazing.
Once you step through the doors, the smell mesmerizes you and makes your stomach instantly growl. The interior offers a relaxed and homey environment. “We do everything fresh. It may take a little bit longer, but you get a fresh plate of food,” said Adam, son of Quan and co-owner of the restaurant with her. “I like that it still looks run down outside because people will walk in and think ‘this is the place on Yelp that has 5 stars?’ Then they taste the food and they’re sold.”
Chez Quan’s definitely does not lack in the taste department, fusing together flavors of Thailand, Spain, and American food. Adam’s vision for Chez Quan’s is to take it a step further than their already flavorful menu, saying “If you want to watch the fight tonight, you typically go somewhere that serves beer and wings. We serve wings; I want to commercialize Thai food in the sense where if there is a fight on, or a game on, you say ‘Hey, lets go to Chez Quan’s and watch it’. That’s the theme I want. You can get wings here, a sandwich, Spanish food, Thai food, and it’s a much cooler environment.”
Adam and his mother Quan are no strangers to the food business in Brevard County. “She owned Quan’s Wok n’ Roll (in Satellite Beach.) That was successful enough for her to acquire the space next door and she knocked a hole in the wall and she made the other side an Asian grocery mart.”
Even though the spot was an incredible success, Adam remembers his Mom eventually having to sell the place. “She was a single mom and it was taking a toll on me and my sister because she was the only person working in her restaurant by herself, seven days a week, with a 7 and 14-year old. She was doing everything she does here, except for delivery. She was even doing tableside service, even though we only had three tables.” After selling the business, Quan went back to work at Patrick Air Force Base and for the past 15 years she’s been running the food services there, until now.
It was even a longer road “home” for Quan before she ever thought of moving to Florida. “My mom only has a 4th grade education, and she is the oldest of nine brothers and sisters. Her parents both passed by the time she was 17 and at that time, Thailand didn’t have a foster program. So my mom was just holding everybody down. She eventually had my sister and then me around 1976. She moved to Denver in 1978 and then moved to Melbourne when I was 3,” Adam recalls.
Now, 15 years later, Quan is actually retired, but still had the itch to work, and Adam saw a great opportunity. “Brevard County has more culture than it acts like. It has the space program, the military, and we’re in Central Florida, but we tend to lose shine to Orlando. But there are many different cultures here, and there’s enough that warrants Brevard County to have some cool places to kick it and eat, instead of having to go to your typical Asian stop or commercial restaurant.”
So together they decided to open Chez Quan’s, and Adam, in his humble approach lets the spotlight fully shine on his mom. “Her ability to cook allows me the ability to try to be fresh, try and use different ideas, to have my floors just be hard concrete with a heart painted on it here and there. Her cooking enables that to happen. It’s not the idea that Chez Quan’s is cool, or this is a nice place to eat because they play the jams, they do Wu Tang Wednesdays, etc… Her cooking enables me to do that. It’s all her magic. One day, I would like it for her to just come here and do what I do, just to float around and take orders and not have to be back in the kitchen. Even if this place was running itself, she would still be in here cooking, that’s the mom she is. So when my mom doesn’t have to come in the building anymore, then I know we’ve made it.”
Chez Quan’s | 1470 Aurora Road, Melbourne | (321) 622-6979
About the writer
Craig Chapman is the Producer of Real Food Real Kitchens, a food media brand that is all about family, food, culture and history. To learn more about his TV series, magazine, and cookbook, visit RealFoodRealKitchens.com