Tracy Chang in her restaurant PAGU with her pug Pearl. Photograph by Sarah Hummel
“I NAMED MY RESTAURANT “PAGU” (JAPANESE FOR ‘PUG’). I’VE ALWAYS HAD BLACK PUGS SINCE I WAS 6. THE BEST PART ABOUT PEARL, AND ALL THE PUGS, IS THAT THEY’RE ALWAYS THERE TO CHEER ME ON. OPENING A RESTAURANT IS AN EMOTIONAL, PHYSICAL ROLLERCOASTER. I’M A TOUGH COOKIE AND I DON’T REALLY HAVE COPING MECHANISMS BUT I SUPPOSE IT’S BECAUSE I HAVE PUGS. ”
What do you do in the food world and what do you love about it?
I get to meet people every day, and help nourish them, whether it's the guests in the dining room or my fellow PAGU team members. They could be celebrating a major achievement, milestone birthday, or grieving a loss and looking for some comforting food and someone to listen.
Your grandmother also owned a restaurant, what values did you inherit from her that you've applied to your restaurant?
1) Be kind to all people.
2) Give more than you take.
3) Work hard and be patient. The results will come.
4) Cook darn good food. Make sure it's delicious and nutritious.
What are your favorite drinks and food items on the menu right now?
Kale & Brussels Salad, Braised Oxtail and Cauliflower "grits", Ramenara, Waffle Churros.
Drinks: Phoebe's Secret, 2014 Matias i Torres La Palma Machuqueras, Hakkaisan Clear Sparkling Awa, El Maestro Sierra Amontillado.
You named PAGU after your pug, Pearl. What's the best part about having her in your restaurant life?
I named my restaurant "PAGU" (Japanese for 'pug'). I've always had black pugs since I was 6. There were Hei Hei and Yoda, Phoebe (14 yrs old), Homer (my brother's 4 yr old) and now Pearl (my 1.5 yr old who shares the same birthday. We also got her on Black Pug Friday.)
The best part about Pearl, and all the pugs, is that they're always there to cheer me on. Opening a restaurant is an emotional, physical rollercoaster. I used to be a tri-athlete (a term we used in high school/college), but there's hardly time for ball sports any more. I'm a tough cookie and I don't really have coping mechanisms but I suppose it's because I have pugs. I have a dream. Perhaps it's a bit silly...I hope to one day share the joy of pug therapy more publicly, with a PAGU rickshaw, a pedi-cab, that goes between Central and Kendall Square at lunch so guests may ride back to work or school, after lunch, and enjoy a black pug for the duration.
How do you resist the patriarchy?
I empower other females around me. I attend monthly events held by my friend Siena Chiang, who runs WOO (Women Owned and Operated), a monthly supper club that gathers women in the city, at a female-owned operation, to discuss what we're reading, wearing, eating, and other current events/ issues outside our Cambridge/Boston bubble.