New branding campaign for Mesa’s growing Asian district

Chicken Adobo, Ma Po Tofu, Yakitori, Pho, Kimchi. 

A trip around the Asian food world to enjoy authentic favorites is as easy as heading to  Mesa’s blossoming “Asian District” on the west-central part of the city. Chock full of eateries, boba cafes, ethnic markets, and mega multi-cultural grocery stores, the growing foodie paradise shows no signs of slowing down. 

As proof, the long-awaited H Mart – the upscale Asian-American supermarket chain – is finally under construction at the southeast corner of Main Street and Dobson Road. When it opens in early 2020, the 63,000-square-foot market will offer more than 40,000 items featuring Asian, Hispanic and American foods and products, accompanying restaurants and a food court.  

It will join a number of other specialty Asian grocery stores in the district, large and small. To name a few: Korean Asiana Market, AZ International Marketplace, Korea Mart, and Mekong Plaza. Mekong Plaza was the impetus that started it all when co-owners Peter Quach and Jim Lai opened a giant food market in a vacant Target in 2008.

Since then, the number of businesses have grown to 70. A burst of eateries have cropped up in the past year like Bubble Noodle, Shaanxi Garden, Genbu Waffles, Xian Fusing Cafe, Happy Bao’s, and Asian Café Express. 

Steven Diep, property manager of the Mekong Plaza and AZ International Marketplace, said customers continue to pack into the restaurants and food courts at peak times for one simple reason: an authentic taste of home.

Community to help elevate district to next level 

Now, the city is working alongside business owners to brand and promote the area to elevate it to the next level, said Jaye O’Donnell, the city’s assistant economic development director. 

The goal is to attract more economic activity to the area that still has some vacant properties “prime for development,” O’Donnell said.  

It is to become a “vibrant, inclusive, day-night community that embraces all Asian cultures and attracts businesses, residents, and tourists from across the region and nation,” the city’s redevelopment plan states.

Take the survey 

In addition to working with the Asian community, the city has contracted with two marketing firms, Moonshot11 and WHYFOR, to assist with research and branding.

The community at large is also being asked to help. An online survey is gathering input from the community to define a brand for the area. 

“We are always interested in hearing the opinions of our residents and this survey will help us understand the direction we should take in branding the corridor,” said Mayor John Giles, who has championed diversity and inclusion throughout his tenure. 

Mesa’s Multicultural Asian District going official  

One of the first tasks will be to define and designate the boundaries of the district. 

Currently, there are about 70 Asian-owned and -themed businesses within two miles of each other. 

Over the past decade, these and other restaurants and markets have been cropping up in three areas: 

  • The main core of businesses is at Dobson Road and Main Street near Mekong Plaza
  • Another cluster of businesses is two miles south of Mekong Plaza at Dobson and Southern Avenue, near Mesa Community College and Banner Desert Medical Center
  • A smaller hub exists in the Three Fountains Plaza on South Longmore Road that is close to Southern Avenue, Mesa Community College and Fiesta Mall 

To take the survey to help brand the district, go to Mesa Multicultural Asian District

Victoria Harker

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