Vietnamese cuisine anyone?

(First published in the April 25, 2019 issue of City Pages)

J. Gumbo’s has moved out and Lemongrass Asian Cuisine will open up in its place this fall



Lemongrass Asian Cuisine will serve mainly Vietnamese and Thai food, like the famous pho soup.

A large downtown Wausau restaurant space will be changing hands.

J. Gumbo’s has moved out from its roughly 4,000-square-foot location on Third Street in downtown Wausau, says Mark Craig, manager of Compass Properties, which owns the building.

In its place, Compass Properties already has signed a lease for a new restaurant, Lemongrass Asian Cuisine, owned by Tuan Uong and Hong Duong, who also own Gloss Nail Bar in Rib Mountain. Their partner is Uong’s sister-in-law, Regina Navarro, who runs a similar, successful restaurant just outside Los Angeles, Calif., with Uong’s brother. The new restaurant in Wausau is planned to begin this fall, as the space will undergo some renovations before opening for business, Craig says. Those renovations include a rain wall. “They’re going to bring an incredible dining experience to downtown,” Craig says.

Lemongrass Asian Cuisine in Hemet, Calif., serves Vietnamese cuisine and Thai food, and has operated in California for more than a decade, Craig says.

Keeping a restaurant in that storefront fits into Compass Properties’ aim to create multiple dining and nightlife experiences in the downtown area, Craig says, citing Daly’s and Jalapenos. Lemongrass Asian Cuisine’s chef in California will live in Wausau for a year to help develop the restaurant here, Craig says.

That would mean two Vietnamese restaurants in downtown Wausau.

The Pho Zone plans to open in the Wausau Center mall in May, taking over the two spaces last occupied by Downtown Grocery and Subway in the mall’s food court. A walled off dining section has been erected and work continues on the project.

J. Gumbo’s owners Keith Malwitz and John Jacobs told a Wausau city committee earlier this week that they’re searching for a new location and asked that their city liquor license be extended for “good cause.” Jacobs told the committee they’re looking within the Wausau metro but hadn’t settled on a location yet. A city memo on this matter indicates J Gumbo’s left its Third Street location on April 30.  The owners declined further comment until they know more details about their future location.