Photo by Isaac Harrell
Holy Yang has done more than most people have by age 22. She owns two businesses, including the not quite 2-year-old Woodlake restaurant Made in Asia and a business-development company, with a second restaurant, A2, in the works downtown. She's also married and the mother of a 10-month-old son named Maddox. It is safe to say that Yang has a lot on her plate, but she manages to keep it balanced while making plans to add more.
Born in Thailand and raised in Detroit, Yang moved to Virginia in 2009 to get married and help her sister-in-law with a new restaurant, Asian Bistro in Powhatan, rather than taking a job as a talent scout for a modeling agency in New York City.
Growing up in a restaurant-owning family gave Yang early exposure to the business. At age 13, she was already bussing tables and serving food, but her parents didn't encourage their children to follow in their footsteps. She was the only one of the eight siblings to start a restaurant.
Yang first magaged her parents' restaurant in Michigan and later Asiana Bistro, among others. She also previously owned Hunan Café at 1112 E. Main St. downtown. She loves to cook — not just because she's grown up working in restaurants, but also because it's how her family connects with each other. "I can't cook in a commercial kitchen," Yang says. However, she says she can prepare anything on the Made In Asia menu in her home kitchen.
Yang describes herself as an economic advocate who supports the growth of local businesses. Through her Yang Business Service, she assists owners who need help in areas such as marketing, design, social media or general management. Among her clients are Petite Sweets, Jones Realty and Sha Bakes.
Next up for Yang is A2, an Asian fusion restaurant that's set to open this summer in the former Hunan Café space. Aiming for a big-city feel, Yang and her husband, Kevin Guo, headed to New York City to get some ideas for A2's modern-looking, minimalist interior design, opting for a white, black and red color scheme. Keeping with the modern theme, all transactions will be done on iPads. Guo will do much of the cooking, using an Asian twist on American dishes and preparing Asian favorites.
"All of my businesses have been my dream business," Yang says. "You can have a lot of dreams. I'm just building my restaurant dream group." Plans for that group include another Richmond-area location for Made In Asia. Then once A2 is up and running, she hopes to expand it to Charlottesville and Virginia Beach among other destinations.
Yang's dreams also include another kind of business she hopes to pursue. But the only detail she wants to reveal for now is that it will involve fashion rather than food.