For some of the owners of Steamboys, their soon-to-open new location is a return home.
Brandon Lin, Andy Le and Michael Olatunji Junard grew up together in Brentwood. Lin and Le played tennis together at John Overton High School while Le and Junard played Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. Lin later met Hans Alcindor in college and met Tao Xu playing street basketball in the park.
Their personal backgrounds and professional expertise are varied. Le is a Vietnamese American doctor who graduated from Meharry Medical College. Alcindor is a Haitian American photographer with a master’s degree in social/organizational psychology. Junard is a Nigerian immigrant from the U.K. who moved to Nashville in 1995. Xu has an MBA from Tennessee State University. There’s one thing on which they all agree: Chinese comfort food.
Now the five of them are opening a new location of their Steamboys comfort Chinese fast-casual dumpling house just five minutes from where Lin, Le and Junard were raised.
They’ll keep making fresh bao, dumplings and noodles at this spot, their third location. The 2,500 square-foot store at 3 Burkitt Commons Ave. will be the largest of the Steamboys restaurants. (The team considers this their fourth location because they inked the deal for an outpost in the Assembly Food Hall at Fifth and Broadway first, but that space has not opened yet.) They also have a flagship in Germantown and another location in Hermitage.
On the menu are: bao, the fluffy, filled steamed buns; dumplings filled with pork and ginger; and noodle soups. Their idea is “good Chinese comfort food made from scratch,” Junard says. There’s a rewards club for frequent diners, and takeout is easy for those looking to reduce indoor interactions right now.
Burkitt Commons is on the border of Brentwood and Nolensville, with several other restaurants, including burger stop and a Mexican restaurant.
“This one, it hits closer to home,” Lin says. “Some of the people who live around there, have never had this [food] before. And there are a lot of people who are interested in cool, new things, but do not want to go downtown. So, it feels like we are bringing this to people.”
“Not everyone is going to book a trip to China,” Alcindor adds. “Save the $3,000 plane ticket and go to Steamboys.”