Thinh Pham: Transitions: University Ave

iPho is one of the most popular noodle restaurants on University Avenue, and owner Thinh Pham explains his take on the restaurant’s future after light rail

Interviewed by: Tong
Edited/Directed by: Melvin
Photos by: Joceleen


My name is Thinh Pham and this is iPho by Saigon.

Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Yeah, I am 25 years old, my buddy and I, we took this place over from his family and we've had it for about 10 months or so. Saigon has been here for about 17 years or so, 15-17 years, but we just recently renovated the place, changed up the name, kept a lot of the things the same but just added our own little spice to it.

What brought you to the new restaurant?

Well, I just graduated last December and my buddy and I, we've always been talking about starting up some kind of business, and we saw the opportunity to take over this one. I've always wanted to be an entrepreneur, so it was a good opportunity for me.

Do you know anything about the history of this building?

This restaurant, it used to be a couple other restaurants. I know it was Thai Basil at one point and I think Noodle World.

How has the light rail construction affected your business?

It's definitely taken an impact on us. Back then, or back when it first started in March/April, the first few months, it was a little rough. I'm not exactly sure what happened but around, starting in July-ish, it picked up quite a bit for us and has been steady ever since then somehow.

Have the number of customers changed since the construction?

There was quite a bit of a drop, I think 20-30 percent. Now it seems like it's almost back to normal.

When the light rail is finished, how do you think it will affect your business?

I think it will help. I mean I'm not exactly sure, I guess you can't tell, you can just speculate. But, I mean, there's transportation. We're hoping to get a more Minneapolis or further crowd to come here. So we will just have to see how that goes. We're all hoping it will help. I mean, I'm sure every business on University is expecting it to, but you never know.

Made possible by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the vote of Minnesotans on November 4, 2008. Administered by the Minnesota Historical Society.