Northeast and North Portland Neighborhood News
Jenny Nguyen plans to open a women’s sports bar. (Sally Miller)
By Penelope Baimbridge
For the Star News
The Sports Bra will be a women’s bar but it’s also for kids and they are opening pretty soon. You’re going to be excited to see the inside of The Sports Bra because it is amazing. There are trophies, pictures of sports teams and their menu is a slam dunk. You didn’t hear this from me, but Aunt Tina’s Vietnawings are the best thing on the menu. Because Jenny Nguyen, the owner and chef, loves puns, here is a joke I made up for her.
What does the pirate always order off The Sports Bra menu?
The Super Caesaaaaargggh Salad.
Here is my interview with Jenny Nguyen:
Do you have any pets?
Jenny Nguyen: Yes, I have a cat and a dog. The cat’s name is Chloe and she is 19, which is old but she still seems really young. She has fur that’s soft like a kitten. I also have a dog and her name is Cleo. She’s 15 years old, so both of our pets are getting up there in age.
Why did you decide to open the Sports Bra?
Jenny: I decided to open the Sports Bra because I felt like there weren’t really any places that specialized in showing women’s sports. My friends and I would go to bars to watch a game, a women’s game, and I would say nine times out of ten there weren’t any women’s games on the televisions. So we would always have to ask. Sometimes everyone in the bar would be watching a different game so they wouldn’t change the channel to show our game, so then we would have to leave. And so I really wanted to create a space where women could watch women’s sports and it wasn’t difficult, but easy. I feel like me and a lot of my friends didn’t feel that comfortable going into sports bars watching games, so making a space that is comfy for everybody was really important to me and that’s kind of the main reason I decided to open the Sports Bra.
How did you think of the name?
Jenny: I love puns. I love words that sound like other words. I’m always joking around. I just thought of “sports bar” and if you just switch those two letters around you have the “sports bra” and sometimes if people say it really fast they say the wrong thing and that’s really funny to me. And sometimes if they read it. Like I went to change the address on my mail, and they were like, “It says Sports Bra here, did you mean Sports Bar?” And I’m like “No.” So it’s kind of funny. Kind of like an inside joke but, it also has a second meaning. The Sports Bra motto is we support women.
Did you do sports when you were young?
Jenny: Yes, I played basketball. That was my number one sport. I tried other things but I always went back to basketball. I love it! I still play now.
Why did you choose this neighborhood for your restaurant?
Jenny: This neighborhood reminds me of the neighborhood I grew up in. I grew up not too far from here. Actually, my dad’s very first job when he came to Portland was that he was a repairman and he did some work for the Pets on Broadway shop.
I love Pets on Broadway.
Jenny: Yeah, so whenever we drive by someplace, my dad will point and say “See that light? I put that light in.” Or “See that door frame? I fixed that door frame.” That kind of thing. I grew up in this neighborhood and I really love being in this area.
How long have you lived in Portland?
Jenny: I was born and raised here in Portland. I stayed here until I was 11 and then we moved to Vancouver and moved back to Portland when I was 23, so a long time.
Why did you choose to make the Sports Bra for kids and adults?
Jenny: That’s a great question. When I started to think about why it was important that people watched women’s sports, I thought first about my friends and me. You know, we love sports and wanted a place where we felt safe and comfy to watch them. Then I thought how much of a difference it would have made if there was a place like this when I was little and how much of an impact it would have had for me growing up and feeling like I belonged and seeing women on television playing a sport that I loved. When I was little, we had the Trailblazers and I would always tell people I’m going to play in the NBA, I’d be the first girl in the NBA, because there wasn’t a women’s version of that at the time. So I think that it’s really important for kids to see women play sports on television so they know that they can grow up to play sports and they don’t have to stop because they become older.
Are you also a chef?
Jenny: I am a chef. I have been cooking for 15 years and that was really my only career field. So I went from being a cook to opening this place.
Did you always want your own business?
Jenny: No, I never ever wanted my own business. When I was a chef and I was cooking people would always ask me, “Hey, Jenny when are you going to open your own restaurant?” And I would always say, “There is absolutely no way I would ever do that. That’s too much work!” I love the idea of being able to go home, leave it all behind me and let someone else worry about it so it never occurred to me that this would ever happen. But the idea struck me a couple of years ago and I couldn’t get it out of my mind. It got to the point where I felt like if I didn’t do it I would regret it. So it was really a matter of having to do it.
Who is Aunt Tina?
Jenny: So she’s is my mom’s brother’s wife. She has been making these fried wings for so long and they’re so good. No matter what party we are going to, she brings them. If someone else is cooking dinner, she brings them. If my uncle is making dinner and it’s something completely different, she’ll still make wings. It’s her signature dish and its finger-licking good.
I like the pun, “Aunt Tina’s Vietnawings!”
Jenny: I love to name things like that.
Do you have a favorite sports team?
Jenny: I don’t think I do. I really love watching the WNBA and all of those teams. I’m a big fan of all the messaging they have and they are just a bunch of powerful women who are excellent at their sport. They are very caring and kind. They do a lot of good things. So that’s the kind of teams that I like to support.
What’s your fave food on the menu?
Jenny: I wrote the menu based on all the food that I like, so we have all of those things that I would love to eat. The kind of things I’m most excited about on the menu are the ones that come from my family. So the ribs, my mom’s baby-back ribs and Aunt Tina’s wings are probably my two favorites, because they’re so close to home. Another menu item that I really love that is also close to home is our Tempeh Reuben. It was the first dish that my girlfriend made for me when we started dating.
Do you think you might be able to have The Sports Bra in other cities?
Jenny: I would love to eventually. I think that Portland is a great place for it to be the first one, because I think our community here is very strong in supporting women. I love that it’s my hometown too. So it’s the perfect meeting of those things. I do feel like there are other cities in the country that could use a place like the Sports Bra.
The Sports Bra: Chef Jenny Nguyen plans to hold a grand opening for her new sports bar on April 1.
Address: 2512 N.E. Broadway
Eight-year-old Penelope Baimbridge lives in the Grant Park neighborhood with her parents, brother, and dog. She is a third-grader at Beverly Cleary school. She likes gymnastics, roller derby, and swimming. Those are her all time favorite sports.
I love your article ❤️
What activities will you have to keep the children entertained and make them want to come back?
Good luck with the new bar/bra Jenny. I sort of know the feeling, trying to find British soccer when everyone is tuned to golf or Canadian football. I’m shocked you don’t have any favorite teams, you should look into Aston Villa. I’ll get you a hat.
Great article, we’ll written, smart question asked with empathy and thoughtfulness. Good job!
Sports Bra is the 3rd Bar/Resturant at that location in one year. It’s a great concept. So I wish it success.
Can men go to watch women’s sport?
I’m sure neighbors of all genders are welcome at the Sports Bra. They may even turn on a Blazers game from time to time. (Probably not this season.)
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Northeast and North Portland Neighborhood News