WRIGLEYVILLE — It's not every day that you walk into a restaurant and walk out with two free Cubs tickets. But about two weeks ago, that's exactly what happened to Lakeview resident Jack Lemuz and his husband when they were having lunch at Cozy Noodles & Rice in Wrigleyville.
"A couple weeks ago, [Cozy Noodles owner Tee Meunpresittiveg] walked out to our table and said, 'Listen, I'm buying about 50 Cubs tickets, and I want you to come to the game with us,'" Lemuz recalled. "And I was like, 'What?'"
It was a surprising offer, but not at all out of character for Meunpresittiveg, Lemuz said. Cozy Noodles, which recently celebrated its 14th anniversary and which Lemuz has been frequenting for the last decade that he's lived in Lakeview, has become a Wrigleyville institution, boasting affordable plates of Thai fusion cuisine and some of the quirkiest interior decorating in the neighborhood.
"The food is great, and the atmosphere is always interesting because he's got all these Pez dispensers on the walls, robots and all kinds of crazy stuff," Lemuz said. "He takes care of his customers, he takes care of the decor, and it's just constantly changing. It's one of those restaurants where you feel like a local. We always take our family when they're in town. And there are plenty of noodle places in Lakeview, but there's something special about what Cozy does."
That special sense of community was palpable at Sunday's game when Meunpresittiveg, Lemuz and some 50 other Cozy Noodles guests settled into their seats at Wrigley Field. The party was seated in two clusters, and Meunpresittiveg circulated through both groups "and made sure everyone was having a great time," Lemuz said.
"Periodically we had a Cozy Noodle chant," Lemuz added with a laugh.
While Lemuz is a big Cubs fan who has attended at least 20 games, he said this one felt particularly special.
"We didn't know any of the other customers, so the opportunity to go with 20 complete strangers — who are also devoted to this little neighborhood noodle shop — to watch the Cubs, the neighborhood institution, just made it feel like there was so much connectivity to the neighborhood."
Even without the surprise perk of attending a Cubs game for free, Lemuz said he loves Cozy Noodle because of the friendly neighborhood atmosphere Meunpresittiveg creates.
“I think he’s such a great guy and is so committed," Lemuz said. "Once you know Tee, well, I’ll see you at the next Cubs game because that’s just the kind of guy he is.”
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