Hannah Cheng, Chef / Owner at Mimi Cheng’s, a locally sourced Taiwanese dumpling eatery and Rethink Certified restaurant partner. Named after her mother, Mimi Cheng’s features a mix of family recipes and fusion dishes. When Hannah and her sister, Marian, decided to quit their corporate jobs to open shop in 2014, their parents were apprehensive, but after a tough first couple of years learning the ins and outs of the restaurant business, the Cheng sisters prevailed. Today, they have two locations in the East Village with a third one opening soon.
Asked what it’s like to go into business with a sibling, Hannah responds: “My sister and I have never been competitive. When one of us wins, we both win,” she says, explaining their special bond: “We share a common goal and implicitly trust one another with each other’s lives.” Having worked on the sales and trading floor at J.P Morgan, Hannah runs the financial side of things, as well as strategy, including the Mimi Cheng’s / Rethink partnership, while Marian oversees day-to-day operations and logistics.
When COVID hit, Hannah and her sister adopted a “This is the new normal. Things are never going back. The sooner we embrace it , the better” sentiment. “How do we keep our employees safe and employed?” was the number one question on their mind. They started by partnering with Verizon to produce meals for New Yorkers in need and by May, they had linked up with Rethink through an industry friend to produce culturally sensitive meals for senior citizens in the Chinatown / LES area.
“The Rethink model is so smart because if you think about it, all restaurants have some amount of downtime and a team already aware of hygienic standards and food prep. By activating existing infrastructure rather than producing all their meals at one centralized kitchen facility, Rethink helps small businesses and winds up with many different types of cuisines to serve to community members.”