Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot closed its location on Seton Avenue and West 24th Street last Thursday after over three years of serving West Campus.
Manager Johnny Vuong said a decline in revenue and the arrival of newer Asian restaurants contributed to the decision to close the restaurant, which is part of a Northern Chinese franchise based around a broth bowl menu.
“We don’t have the luxury of being right along Guadalupe Street where most students pass by,” Vuong said. “It’s difficult to bring in new customers in a market that has expanded as quickly as (the Asian cuisine market) has in the area when we’re not as visible.”
Vuong said he is thankful for all the patrons who supported the restaurant up until its closing, especially the students he opened the franchise to serve.
“The student community welcomed us when we opened and has been a big number of our most frequent customers,” Vuong said. “Working closely with customers was a priority of mine when I opened, and I’ve seen a lot of familiar faces come through here in the last three years.”
Radio-television-film sophomore Ainsley McClain said she will miss the friendly service at Little Sheep, where she often ate with friends.
“Everyone was always so nice there,” McClain said. “The staff always made sure everything was made right, and sometimes Johnny (Vuong) would come around and see how things were going.”
McClain said she has eaten at a few of the newer Asian restaurants around campus, such as Bao’d Up and Kokodak. She said the other new restaurants were good but weren’t as significant to her as Little Sheep.
“My friends that I have now — we hung out a lot at Little Sheep when we were just getting to know each other,” McClain said. “That makes it a little more special to me, so it kind of sucks that it’s just gone now.”
Tiara Boquiren, chairperson for University Unions’ Events + Entertainment Asian American Culture committee, said Little Sheep offered Chinese cuisine in a way some people never experienced before. When she tried Little Sheep for the first time with a friend, she said she was “surprised in a good way.”
“It wasn’t something I had ever seen at a Chinese restaurant before,” nutrition and prepharmacy senior Boquiren said. “It made me excited to try something new from a culture I thought I was so familiar with before.”
Boquiren said she felt the food offered a new taste to students but still had familiar elements.
“Food from different parts of China tends to get lumped into one big general Chinese category, but there’s more variation than people realize,” Boquiren said. “Food from Eastern China will look different than Northern China, so to see something people don’t normally picture when they think of Chinese food being represented to students in a really accessible way is so cool.”
Vuong said he is looking for more ways to serve the West Campus community.
“I was very fortunate to get to work in this area, even for this short period of time,” Vuong said. “If I can find a way to get something else open that lets me stay in West Campus, I’d be more than willing to do it.”