NEIGHBORHOOD SPOTLIGHT

Our community has much to offer. We are invested in finding ways to support connection, and champion those already doing important work in our neighborhood.

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FIELDS CORNER PRESENTS

In December 2019, Travis Lee purchased the Gallagher Building from John Gallagher after his retirement. 

This property will eventually be turned into condos with retail space on the first floor. For the time being, Fields Corner Main Street will be providing programming for the space.

 

We hope that this space will reflect the neighborhood and help the community connect. 

To use the space, you should become a member of the organization and be prepared to provide day of insurance when you use the space. 

We look forward to hearing your ideas!

EVENT SPACE IDEAS

Have an idea for how to use the Fields Corner Presents space? We'd love to connect! Please fill out the form below to express interest in using this space. Help us realize our vision for this unique venue's endless potential and dynamism.

Image by Andrew Knechel

PHOTOJOURNALISM PROJECT

The Fields Corner Main Street organization has hired Boston based photojournalist Johnny Nguyen to capture our vibrant business district and entrepreneurs through interviews and photography.

Check back each week for new business owner profiles!

ENTREPRENEUR PROFILES

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LA MARTINE

Beauty Supply

Introducing

 

La Martine is a beauty supply store founded in 2009 by Martine Megellus, and  located at 1530 Dorchester Ave, Dorchester, MA 02122.  

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Interview with Martine

Johnny: So Martine, I’m here with you and can you tell me a little bit about of who
you are.

Martine: I’m from Haiti and I’ve been in this country for a very long time, here since I was 19-20 years old. I met my husband here, we have four kids. My husband is also from Haiti. I decided to open a business because we own a home and we have four children. I began thinking about kids going to college, kids growing up, and how we are going to need more resources like to make life better for them. And I was just thinking when I had my 4th child, I wanted to own my own business. I wanted to be a business owner and then we opened the business 11 years ago when the Mayor Menino was the mayor of Boston. He helped us, he paid for our sign, he helped us, he did the sign with us. He inaugurated the store and we got a lot of help with opening. The first time opening a business was not easy, but we tried to keep up, keep the business going, and with the help of my husband too, my kids are always here, and now we’ve been here for 11 years.

 

Johnny: And that’s really cool Martine because it sounds like the reason why you decided to open the store was for your family. 

 

Martine: Yes.

 

Johnny: And over time, your family has been very involved with the store. I know we have your son is here, and your husband is here. When I came in, he was helping you out. It sounds like the whole family is involved.

 

Martine: Yes! Family business.

 

Johnny: Before you opened your own business, what were you doing?

 

Martine: I was working as a RCA in a nursing home, and I was thinking, if I have my own business, I would stop working so hard. I used to work 2 jobs at that time and I decided to open the store, I was able to cut down my hours. I was still working but I cut down to 24 hours. The business was doing great, sometimes things happen, it goes up and down, but we are still here.

 

I met my husband here, we have four kids. My husband is also from Haiti. I decided to open a business because we own a home and we have four children.

Johnny: That’s cool because even though those are two different fields, working in a nursing home and opening a business, I’m thinking that those skills that you used at the nursing home, you still use it here. For you, when you’re working in the nursing home, you’re warm, caring, a lot of empathy, a lot of love and care. I feel in the business, you have to do the same for customers. How has that been for you? How has that been for you, for the transition of working 2 jobs, so many hours, sacrifices, to owning your own business, which comes with its own sacrifices?

 

Martine: It was very tough but I managed very well. Thank god gave me the strength to manage! It wasn’t easy because I live an hour away from here. So I used to work 35 minutes from my home. Sometimes I work night time, and after night shift, I have to be here in the morning. We open at 10, I work all day. It was tough but I manage.

 

Johnny: I know you said you cut back your hours, but having children, that’s more than a full time job! 

See the rest of our interview with Martine—

Read More


Martine: I remember, all the customers know my son! After 3 months (of having him), that was when we opened the store. That’s Marvin right there. Johnny: oh he’s the longest employee! Martine: haha yes, he’s here, all the time! Johnny: So he’s 11 now - and I think that’s really cool. He was born, you opened the store. It’s like the whole journey is together. So when you opened the store, what made you design on a hair supply store? Martine: I was looking at the marketing, the top type of stores is food related or a hair store. We’re women so we like to be beautiful, that’s how I was thinking about it - Beauty is a big business - it’s a big business and people will do everything to to keep themselves beautiful and thats what made me decide to open a beauty supply store. Johnny: And I think it’s also you’re providing a really important thing for the community - This is so important and key to provide something for the people in the community. What made you guys decide to open in Dorchester? Martine: In the city, in the community of Dorchester, we have a lot of friends around and before I opened, a friend used to have a bridal shower and she was here for 30 years. I asked her, I talked to people for advice, and people said this is a good place to open a beauty store and would have good business. Basically, the people of this neighborhood are like me - Black. We like to do our hair and that's why I chose Dorchester. Johnny: And that’s really cool because Dorchester is a really diverse community - there’s a large Hatian Community, a large Dominican community, African American community, Asian community, it’s a melting pot. I think what’s really cool about doing this project so far is that the majority of the business owners that I have talked to are all people of color. Which I think is really nice and important to see. I know you said there has been up and down and with COVID19, it’s been one of the tougher times. How has that been going? Martine: When we hit February and I was listening to the situation, I didn’t take it too seriously. I was watching the news but we still had customers coming in, buying. When we hit March, that’s when I realize this is something different, this is going to be tough. Business began going down, I wasn’t selling, I had 2 to 3 customers per day, I was thinking of what I was going to do, then on the 21st they announced that it was going to close down the businesses, I will never forget this. I said “wow” and by noon time on the 24th we had to shut down, I was thinking the mayor announced that we are going to shut down for 7 days, then after listen to the news, it became longer. THey said they were going to extend it to more time, I was like wow. It has been 2 months since we shut down. I didn’t even know what we were going to do. I said maybe I’ll be out of businesses, I was thinking of what to do. The owner (of building), Alan, he helped me too. He called me “there’s a lot of applications out there that you can get help”. He was great, he was on top of it, he was calling me, sending me emails, and helping me apply for grants with the City of Boston to help me pay for the rent because the rent is expensive. And I applied because I really appreciate the City of Boston because they help us, it helped me pay one month, I was two months behind. So Thank god I paid him, so we open back up, and we’re moving forward. Johnny: And I think that’s really special to hear because no matter how hard it was, you never gave up. It speaks volumes to who you are and what you want for your family, this is not just YOUR business, it’s your family business. It’s a scary time too, not just as a business owner but also as a mother. I know for your son, school was closed, there was a lot of changes happening at once for everyone. I think it’s really good to see how you continued to fight and to move forward. So what are you hoping for the future now? I know COVID19 is still here and you have to adapt. Martine: We have to adapt, to keep the social distancing, to protect ourselves, and taking the precautions that best can - wearing a mask, wearing goggles, because I don’t think it’ll end anytime soon. I think we will to keep following the guidelines to keep the community, the people, to keep them safe and ourselves safe also. Johnny: Do you have anything else you would like to share? Martine: I just got the re-opening fund and I’m really happy about it. Now I can do everything to keep social distancing, buy what we need to keep ourselves and our community safe. We are really thankful to the City of Boston, to the Governor, the Mayor, and everything - FCMS! Jackey came to help me with the application because when I did the application, I could not submit. There was question, whatever you put, I couldn’t submit it. Thank god Jackey passing by to check in, I explained to her that I filled out the application and I couldn’t submit it. Jackey said “okay, I’ll be back!”, she came back with her laptop, helped me submit it. Now I have the funds and I really appreciate it. Johnny: And that’s the thing, these applications are there but they make it really difficult to understand. Martine: We’re really appreciate it and we are thankful!





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REIGN

Drink Lab

Introducing

 

Reign Drink Lab is located at 1370 Dorchester Ave, and was founded on the simple idea of using real, quality ingredients in great tasting drinks.  

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Interview with the Tam:

Johnny: Let's talks a little bit more about my Reign. And like what it means to you. 

 

Tam: Reign, what it means to me. Reign is fun. Want to say that something that's more my style business, my style of just everything. It's a place where I feel like I have freedom to be creative with. With the Vietnamese restaurants, I feel like I have to stay within a certain kind of a box but with Reign. It's like we can kind of do whatever we want. Right. We can be authentic to ourselves and just cannot be afraid to be creative and innovative. And I think it's cool because we're kind of we're bridging generations. We're bridging cultures as well. And we're doing it in a way that feels feels real to ourselves, you know, and we put a lot of thought into everything that we do. We put a lot of thought into how we present ourselves. You know, we want to make sure that, you know, our values shine through. So, yeah. Reign is  like our creative expression. You know, it's. I used to talk about as like an immersive experience. So if you talk about art, it's like this immersive experience where it's it's visual. You know, you can hear the music. You could hear stuff. It's also taste, obviously. 

 

Johnny: Yeah, it's really cool because I feel like I heard a lot of the same things from like, Amanda and Kathy and right about how like the creative and—

 

Tam: Not scripted! haha 

 

Johnny: Yeah. I think they could make a whole Reign of it, like the innovation thing is like is so key. When you say in like Pho Hoa. And everything like you have to stay within like a certain, like a box. It's like very traditional food. And there's like, it's like like previous generations like. Right. It's like authentic. Genuine like. Exactly. How would be like back home in Vietnam. Yeah. And I think with Reign it sounds like now you're using your Vietnamese American experience into this entire endeavor. 

 

Tam: That's really accurate and so forth, like different businesses have different purposes. 

 

Johnny: Right. 


Tam: And if if both, what is about preserving and promoting your culture. Reign is about: how do we take, how do we take where we where maybe our parents come from, where where our culture originates from, but then blended with where we come from. Right. So make it modern, make it applicable and also reach a different audience. You know, a lot of Reign's customers have never been to Pho Hoa. And so I like to oftenr mentioned that people don't drink our coffee because Vietnamese catering to the tastes great obscurities. Right. And so that's like what it's kind of back that back handed. But like Back-Door, it's introducing people to our culture. Oh you didn't know it's Vietnamese? yeah yeah it is. Yeah. Yeah. So I think it's. Yeah, Reign is just awesome.

See the rest of our interview with Tam Le—

Read More


Johnny: It's also, you know, anything like that, such a really important thing because, you know, it almost seems like we're all talking in the same room because so many of the same topic feels like you can hear from both conversation. Right. Especially with the whole like the whole education piece for me. Tam: Let me build upon that part. Yeah. In your traditional like Vietnamese Vietnamese business, it's very top down economy. And so they just go back a generation. You think about it. I mean, maybe your parents, your parents, parents that like it's very authoritative. So it's very like "I'm the elder, you listen to what I say". And then that's it, I had the experience and the knowledge. So I think with Reign, our goal is to make collaborative. And so a lot of organization will talk about being collaborative, but then they don't practice what they preach. So I think the fact that we share a lot of the same ideas and thoughts about Reign shows that it is a collaborative. Johnny: Because I think like and I totally agree with that, you know, because if you let your teams' voice be really a part of the DNA of that place, then the genuine and like authenticity of the place will shine through yet right in the product, in that environment and divides go through everything, right. And if anything, it's very you got to be able to do that. Can you speak a little bit more like what the values are that you see for Reign? Tam: We have five. One is always learning even. One is be real. One is work hard, play hard. So that's three. One is like (........) Positvity! Yeah. We're back to power of positivity. Work hard. Play hard. All right. So, yeah. So those are the values that because. Johnny: And again, it's almost that we're all sitting at the same time. But a lot of those same values like shine through. Yeah. Right. And I think one of the really awesome things that occurred. I mean, Kathy said is how like one of the most important things that you guys are trying to do at Reign is building relationships with anybody and everybody that walks through it. Right. And I think during that time, like COVID situation. It's been more difficult because the interaction is that you guys have like carefully built, has now been cut so short, right? Not because you guys wanted to, but because of, like, for safety and health reasons but also because of like regulations, like how has. How do you feel like you're still kind of built those like human connections in such like every single day, changing like environment? Yeah. Tam: So virtually through social media engagement. But I think the fact that that we're still open. Right. You know, that like. We can still at least connect in some way. Versus it's not no connection at all. I think. I think people appreciate how we've made adjustments and how we're trying to find solutions to here to stay open and then also to serve our products. So I don't know if that helps us build the relationship. But, you know. Right. So for Reign when we thought about possibly closing. We thought about our customers, and then we thought about the fact that we have a responsibility to serve our customers. Right. And so because we recognize a responsibility and we made exhaustive efforts to stay open and figure out a safe way to serve our customers. I'm thinking the customers see and feel that. And I think that strengthens relationships. Right, because there's a lot of other businesses have closed down. And so it's like "I used to get my stuff here every day and now I can't". Right. So I think we've definitely, um, not only have we strengthened relationships with our existing customers, but we've made a bunch more.. Johnny: No, definitely, and because I think like I think one really awesome thing this heard from you is that, like, fight, you guys stay open. You guys are serving the community like the one that always comes. Right, because it is such strange time. Every single day is something new, something different. It's like by having a place that before we go to be open to providing those drinks or food or whatever. You always love it provides a level of comfort that you can't really get elsewhere. Tam: Yeah, we've got that. What? It's about life. It's like that sense of normalcy. Yeah. Why are these all kind of messed up right now? But like, I can count on Reign. And this is like my routine. So at least this is this is the same. Right. So, yeah, definitely no. Johnny: And like to connect it from like Pho Hoa, like what your dad said, you know Pho Hoa was always open, And it seemed to me like you're taking those very same values. Tam: Close, we still close for holidays! There's a balance. Yeah. Yes. Yes. It comes back to the correlation I'll make there. It's about purpose. Right. And if if the business is self-serving, which is like I'm just going to make money, then then you operate it when it's convenient for you. Johnny: Yeah. Tam: So if things go you close or whatever. Right. But if your purpose is to serve the people then that shifts how you run the business. Obstacles happen, and then, you know, you you stay centered on what your goal is, which is to serve the people. And then so that puts you in that mindset to do whatever it takes to get to stay the same. Johnny: Which is awesome, because I think that. I personally feel like the community sees all the effort that you all has put in to still provide quality products. Still trying to be open, trying to adapt to the change. Yeah, because I can imagine, you know, like there it's much more limited spaces, places are open right now. And because you guys are offering something that you can't really get elsewhere, it's it's much easier to cut down on quality or whatever to make things easier for you guys. But at the end of the day, quality simply is one of the few like one of the main things in your place. Tam: Well, our stuff isn't cheap. You know, we're not trying to sell cheap products and we're trying to sell quality products. And so quality, you can't cut corners with your quality. you can't cut corners with your beans, get cut corners on how you produce your product. You can't cut cut corners on how you staff it. Right. We could run to Slim. We could run a slim crew right there, just like, you know, that that would save the business money if we ran a slim crew and then people would have to wait longer. And then drinks will be made rushed and stuff like that. But no, we we make sure that we maintain a level of quality. I'll move from this a little bit, but through Reign, It's like 400 SQ Foot, which I'll say it's his 400 sq foot shop. You know, I say that because that's small. Like Pho Hoa, like three thousand square feet, Pho Linh like twenty four hundred square feet. We're talking like 10 times the size. Right. But regardless of the size that you can so make an impact and so it's with who we hire and our position in the community of just like being in Dorchester Fields Corner, you know, we feel like, you know, we can we can show something, you know. Right. We can show something and just it doesn't matter does matter how big this one this is. You can you can show how you want to do things. Right. And I would say be exampl or show example, whatever, but, you know, if if we want to, like, spread positivity, create community and whatever it is like through our shop, we can do that. Johnny: And they like to kind of go back a little bit to like the way that you describe, like how you guys maintain quality and how you guys don't cut corners. And it seems like that has. By not cutting corners and by maintaining the quality, I feel like that feeds everything else that you guys are striving for. I think especially like for not having like a slimmed down crew that shows that you're taking care of your team and therefore, like there's like more self care there. And that positive positivity, which is one of your values, extends upon to the community, to the people that comes into people that look like the people that engages with the audience with Reign on a daily basis. Tam: If we're going to talk about quality. That's like one of your hallmarks is being a high quality, whatever it it has to be everywhere. Yeah. Right. It can't just be in this one spot. It's guiding the whole thing. So whether it's. Your game for who you hire, your standards for, how hard you work, how clean we are like. And then it's that it trickles down to how we pay. Right. Like how we take care of our employees financially, emotionally, whatever it is. Right. Problems come up and stuff like that. It's. Like, if the goal. I'm not saying the goals be perfect. Perfection or but if the goal is for excellence. Right. Then you can't turn it on and turn it off. You have to be excellent everywhere. No. Johnny: And then they like one of the things I hear from you is like who you hire is so important and investing in your employees. I think the one with one of the really cool things hearing from Amanda and Kathy is like they're both have like different journeys with with Reign. I know like one started as like a manager, one started as consumer, and then, you know, like doing the mural here. And then both having been from this community. Right. Which I think is so important. I feel like because of their perspective, it gives Reign even more like real perspective on a community and the people that you guys are serving. Tam: That's super important, super important, I sent text out to James yesterday, right? I haven't shared it with you guys, but I think James. Thank you, James and Amanda, whoever you need to just like, keep us out of nonsense. You know, it's just it's having a pulse. It's having a pulse and understanding and you don't have having empathy, right? Yeah, so like I only have my perspective, that's it. So I'll perspective. I only have my experiences right. And that's not shared by everybody. And so I don't share my own experiences. So that's why, like I say, we, we talk, we talk, we have conversations. We get perspective. Right. And so we take like we've had two major events in the past couple months, two major ones. Right. And it's the response to that. In a careful response, because, like it or not, like we are business, therefore we have a platform. It is very point how we use that platform, you know, and so we can't be like knee jerk reaction and just spout off because of whatever, because what's trending? You know, we have to be thoughtful in how we use our platform. And so I was thinking of James and then Amanda then like that basically every day, the whole crew for like because I'm like 40, you know, I'm not young and I don't live in Dorchester. I don't you know, I don't know what's going on, like a hundred percent. And so, like. We depend on everyone to give us that perspective, right? And like we've we've had heavy conversations about things like I'm not going to bring it up, but we've had a heavy conversation about things in which it's like but the things were also open minded that we come with our views and we express it. But then we listen. Right. And so, I don't even know what the question was haha. But it's just it's a great thing. It's a great thing. Johnny: Because like I know, like both Amanda and Kathy see you as like their boss, but more as a mentor. Right. Yeah. And when they learn a lot from you. But it seems like it's it's like a circle. Right. Because like it's a circle. Because, like, they're not only just learning from you, but like you're also learning from them. Tam: What I can say is that when I started Reign, this was three, four or five years ago, I was like, I'm gonna come in and I hope to inspire young people. To do better and what kind of whatever his way. But it's like the opposite. So when I go into my shop, I'm inspired by the staff, like they get the energy. I recognize energy. Cause that was my energy level, like when I was 20. Right. It's like this. It's like this. You got the rest of your life ahead of you. And you're so hungry to get after it, you know, type of energy. Right. It's not only that. So that's only one part of it. But it's like doing it the right way. You know, so it's like having positive vibes can do attitude, like things are coming up. But it's just like with COVID and everything we had to do. We're talking about like changes every day and the way we do business. Right. Changes in like oh we're not going do customers coming in anymore. We're gonna shut the door. Oh, we gotta do this and do that. And honestly, I didn't hear one complaints. I hear what one "that sucks". Right. I didn't hear any of that. You know, maybe kept in among themselves, but it never got back to me. Right. And so just like. All right, we're getting after it. And we've got busy. I mean, we got really busy, like, crazy busy. Right, though, in the way staff works, it lags. So this is how we stack and you get really busy in it. Oh, shoot. We have to we have to get more people to shop. Right. But everyone's just, down for the cause. You know, and so open the shop, create these jobs, you know, show the youth of Dorchester that things can be pretty cool. Right. You work hard and have a good time doing it. And so that was that. But then now it's like now go into my shop. Wow. We got something pretty good going on here. Like, it energizes me to want to, like, do more to better yourself. That's pretty cool. Circle. Johnny: Yeah. No. That's the thing. It's because I seem like what you guys have created is really special. Right. I think on the surface it's like calling these guys so like you guys sell Drinks. All right. Well, that's the most like basic respect. But as soon as, like, you look like a simple it's like, oh, like, what's the menu? Yeah. That's when everything starts shining through. And then that gets people in the door. You're like, oh, what were these people like? Well, like, what is the environment they're creating? And then you start seeing like the full on life experience of Reign. Wow. All right. It's not just the quality drinks guys you guys are serving. It's also a quality service and the quality people and the team behind the entire business. Yeah, and I think that's one special thing that I think a lot of businesses wants to emulate. Like to have that sense of feeling when you walk to the door or when or even now. It's as simple as ordering online pickup. Yeah, right. But somehow, some way you guys are able to transfer what you guys are doing before something that's. But you have to adapt to and you're still able to offer that same very same approach. But I think like as I was walking in the parking lot, I think a guy was had to wait a little bit longer for his drink because it's his ticket. Didn't like printed out. That's what I overheard. Yeah. But it didn't make him upset. Yeah. Right. Like, he's actually like very happy. He's like, oh no, it's fine. Like I put in the note and like so the staff said that I'm so sorry. He's like, no, it's fine. I'll be back tomorrow. Yeah. You know, like like. And I think just shows like how much loyalty that you guys have created inthe community and the people that comes by because something like that to him was like, you know what, like I'm here for these guys. Like I want to continue supporting support them. Like, this is like a human experience. Yeah. Right. And then that's like. Really cool. Tam: So that's great. It's great to hear. So we often times, mistakes will happen. And it's funny, like Michaels is a big part of Reign. He has operations and. You know, we all have to navigate when there are problems arise. But it's funny that whenever something negative happens, it ends up being positive. So we'll make a mistake. But then like we go above and beyond. So to rectify it. To take care of it. So then now when we come out ahead. Right. It's like they they like us more. I don't know. Right. It's like holy. You know, it's I go in and I think it's it's it's genuine. Right. It's not. This is not a this is not a "I'm afraid to lose your business and I want your money" type of reaction. It's we care about you being happy. Right. And we know that we like didn't meet your expectations and we really appreciate you. So, you know, we're gonna take care of this. We going to take care of you. So that's where it comes from. And so and it's like, I can't stress enough. It starts with your mentality, perspective, regular mentality of. Is a customer, a person or is customer, a dollar sign? You know, and so. And from day one that's been our thing, which is like we're a small shop. When you come inside, you're already like in our space. Like literally in our space. Right. And so, like, we take you in like like we're friends or family, whatever it is, like we're neighbors or whatever, so that we can write names on the cups. Most of time. Right. It's about it. It's spelled correctly, you know. And so that's about like you knew this. You are a person, right? We see you and we appreciate you. Right. So, yeah, you know, we I think, like, you know, the way you treat people in general, that's how they're going to be treated like a neighbor. Right. Then they're going to feel like a neighbor to to act like a neighbor. Right. But if if they're just a transaction, then they're going to treat you like a transaction too, you know. And then there's not going to be forgiveness. There's not going to be any of that. Right. There's not going to be that that that empathy there, you know, because, you know, it's you're not a you're not a person to them anymore. You're just a business, you know. And so. So I think if we have any goodwill from our customers, it's because, like, it's how we treat them. Johnny: Like the one thing that's like I keep hearing from all you guys is like how small the spaces. Yeah. Right. But I think happening with that with that small space, it also creates like a level of intimacy with the customer. Right. And I think, like, one thing I hear you guys say a lot was like you're like welcome to like your family. And it's almost as if, like, Reign is like your guys like kitchen. Right. Which is heart of the house, the heart of anybody's home. Yeah. Right. By welcoming customers. And it's like, hey, come on in. You know, hang out for a bit. Yeah. Join the join the family. Yeah. It's. And when you leave that you are a part of it. Tam: It's a beautiful thing because we have customers like from every walk of life, you know. And the other day I saw something cool so I took a photo. It was like these two older Vietnamese women in masks like we're talking about, like the grandmas. Right. That they go like, you know, you know, like, you know. And I'm like, what do they come Reign? That's awesome, you know? And then but then we'll have like everybody else, you know. And so I love that we're able to create that. Right. Because with everything going on right now, like the stuff that's going on right now know, I think that. You know, everything starts with communication and dialog and just compassion and understanding and all that. And so through our shop, we're able to create a place where people from all sorts of different backgrounds come in and just let their guard down. And just like, you know, just just be cool right then that can foster can foster, like, just. A lot of times we'll have police officers as customers, right? And in a lot of times, at the same time, we'll have our other customers for the neighborhood. Sometimes people of color. Right. And so outside of our shop, when those two people meet. It could be something tense. It could be tense. Right. And I've heard it way back in the past was with people that we know. It's like I don't know why, but whenever whenever I'm next to a police officer, I just tense up a little bit. Right. And so but when when you're in this kind of like, neutral environment, like I shop, right. Then everyone can kind of like, you know, a cop out there trying to be like put on its face, stone face, whatever it is. Come inside our shop, it's cracking jokes and stuff like cracking jokes and stuff, you know? And so it's like if we can just see that we're all human, that we're all we're just all just trying to get by. Right. And then we work from that place, then maybe something can happen, you know? And so I just liked that we potentially are creating a space like that. Johnny: And it's very evident that you guys have created a very special place, not just for yourselves, but for the community. Yes. Is there anything else you want to add? Tam: Just in general. We did our timer go off. I think we had. So, like talking about Vietnamese, right? So just go back. Everything that I'll say I've experienced with our culture. All right. So I just like the way my father raised me. Right. Just like he never said that these people are perfect. When I was 18 or 19, my father told me, like, just take the best of the Vietnamese culture, take the best American culture. And then, like, make it yours. And so I think Reign is like me doing that. You know, and so there is there's a lot of great things about the Vietnamese culture, right. Work ethic, pride, sense of family, stuff like that. It's just like amazing that we had a hold on to. But there's areas where we can grow, right? Where we can grow. It's a lot. There's a lot of room for growth. And so Reign drink lab, what we do through that is kind of like it's not a Vietnamese place , Right? But I can't help but make my culture through our culture, through everything, you know. And so it's like our ability to, like, indulge. Let me show something about how we can grow. This is how we can do it. This is how we can assimilate in the community. Right. And be a part still. Be Vietnamese. Be a part of the community. Participate. Right. This is how we can show our positivity and put positive vibes out there. Right. This is how we can we react to negative situations. Right. This is how we can have a positive work environment. Right. And like promote growth through our youth. Right. This is how we can entrust responsibility to younger people. It's helped empower. Right. Through Reign to 400 square feet. Right. We can do all that. Yeah. You know, and so who knows how many people that will touch and how that will spread and how that will influence. Right. I don't know. I don't care. Right. Like we take care of ourselves. Right. But maybe we do you help outside of our shops, you stuff. Johnny: And like so many other things that you said, like Amanda and Kathy said too. You know, I think some of them were like the most like the biggest thing that I heard was a sort of like, you know, for Amanda and Kathy, like, they are like the next generation. Right. They're young, they're from this community that they're like Vietnamese American. And they talk with the very same things about like how growing up, you know, like when you're younger, you know, like Vietnamese, food or culture may not be the most appealing thing because you just want to blend in. You know, everybody else. Yeah. But over time, they've been able to really help raise it and learn how to love their culture in that very same idea. Yeah. Well, I want I'm taking on certain aspects of Vietnamese culture and truly what we truly value and blending it into their own experience and our own experience. Yeah. Living in America. Yeah. Like this is like a byproduct. Yeah. And it seems like it's from,. Seem like the whole team that really truly believes that they're really trying to push that forward. Which I think is really special, and I think something that's been said a lot during these conversations, like real recognize real. Tam: And I haven't said it once yet haha. Johnny: But I think I think people do recognize. I think that's a very like one hundred percent. Tam: The number one rule of real recognize real is you don't say real recognize real. You just recognize you just... Amanda: Yeah but we gonna say it right now. Yeah. Tam: Yeah but we have to explain it so People get it . And that's part of being real. Is being humble. Exactly right. Like if you're doing it to be recognized, like talking about promoting yourself, then that's not being real. You know, you just do it right. And so. And so. Yeah. Like you recognize. Yeah. Right. Yeah. It's cool. Johnny: And I think it's only when those things like when something is like genuine. Really authentic. Yeah. People will feel that, you know, like you can't. And those are the things that you really can't buy. Yeah. You really can't teach in that sense. Like I think education real about what I mean by those. Like those are the things that you can't just go into store. Yeah. No matter how much money you have, you can't buy genuineness and authenticity. Tam: That's got. That's very real right now. That's very, very that's very relevant right now. That's very relevant right now. Because there's some because businesses are putting things out there. Right. Putting these out there that they have a certain position. And and the consumers are very intelligent and the consumers are very, very intelligent. They see it. They see they see through empty words. Right. And so people are not stupid, you know. And I think all businesses should be held to that higher standard of like, if you're going to see something better, back it up. Yeah. Right. And so I always say less. Let me let your actions talk. Yeah, I think it is a parallel. I mean, think of something, you know. I've not done that. What are we talking about? It's not like the genuine and being authentic. OK, yeah, yeah, I think we covered that. Yeah. All right. So one day I didn't talk about it, but opportunity. And so I know that, like, through my own life, I've had amazing opportunities. Those opportunity given to me think they were given to me through the high work, my parents or whatever, some of it a little bit of that I earned. But a lot was given. And so, like, I was given an opportunity for the opportunity, just like a job. Right. It's like you're given this. You gave it a chance. Right. And so Reign is it's really just that it's it's giving you an opportunity to see the point somehow. And that's it. That's all it's given. Right. Every one of our staff members, every one of our team, they have earned everything , you know. And so nothing like. I'm super it's super pointed. Right. Is that like everyone feels like accomplished because they already know. And so I always say, like, oh, I'll give most people a chance. Everyone's going to get a chance. An opportunity. I can give you that. Right. But everything else you're going to earn on your own, you know, and so on. So like through Rein drink lab in the drops and we create. It's a chance, it's an opportunity, no chance, it's an opportunity for someone that maybe hasn't has ever worked anywhere before or maybe whatever. Right. To come in and make their own. You know, it's because it's kind of like that paying forward thing that where a parent pass you get this opportunity and, you know, they they make themselves and they create for me and then give me an opportunity that I create a this office, I'll pass it on and so on. And like Kathy, I mean, like they're here for a reason. They're here talking to you today for a reason. Right. Because they kind of like they're the shining example of like super talented, hardworking, like just great at it. Like all these. All the tools. Right. But then when you apply it to something. Right. Where you go with that. Yeah. Right. So I don't know. I don't know. I don't know what it's like to grow up in Dorchester and or just not know what. Always like to grow up the school system. Something that I have no idea. I don't make any assumptions. Right. But I'm like I'm a visionary dreamer or whatever you want to call it. Ambitious. You know, I'm saying it's so. Like I talked to the staff one to one. From time to time, need to figure out what kind of what they're doing, what they're thinking and stuff, and it's just like I'm here to keep pushing them to, like they figure, you know, go bigger, right. Like, go higher, you know, or just keep going. Oh, I get that, you know, or just keep going. You know, and so I think that's like probably in terms of fulfillment, personal fulfillment. That's that's what's priceless for. Right. It's not. I take it. I care about the numbers a lot because a profitable business is sustainable. This is not making money , it's not going to last. Any lenght of time. Right. If the business doesn't last, then. You can't provide the employees. So having a good business model is so that the business can sustain itself over time and continue to provide opportunities for your employees. Right. So I'm always I'm taking the numbers. But where it gets that's a fulfillment is not profitability. I get it. Seeing the success of my staff, of our staff. You know, it's so good. Amanda and Kathy are shining examples like of that. Good job. Amanda: Thank you. Word of affirmations from like, your parents. Tam: I think that that puts a bow on it. Yeah. We we make mistakes all the time. I make mistakes all the time. We meet on it, we talk about it. We adjust, we make adjustments, take ownership most of time. Right. Just like. It's sometimes just like it is what it is, whatever, but like. Because we're so small, we're so nimble, right? We don't have like it because we're so young. We don't have the pressures of being established. Right. With Pho Hoa, I Feel the pressures of being established. I feel a responsibility to the customers who've been with us for 20 years. Right. Like, I feel that responsibility. With Reign, we kind of do whatever we want. Right. We do what we want because we know our heart's in the right place. You know, we we we know we know our core values, you know, we're about and we make sure we're always giving those marks and we don't have this other kind of baggage to deal with. You know, so maybe it makes us like it able to move quickly. Yeah. So. All right. That's as much as I can brag about, Reign. That's that's all I could say about Reign.





When I was 18 or 19, my father told me, like, just take the best of the Vietnamese culture, take the best American culture. And then, like, make it yours. And so I think Reign is like me doing that.

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Interview with the Reign team:

Johnny: Yeah. You can start whenever. Oh, hey, so your name. Introduce. OK. 

 

Amanda: My name's Amanda. I'm the manager of Reign Drink Lab. I've been working here for four years. I'm a local of Dorchester. I found out about Reign through my friend Thri, and I've been here for four years now. 

 

Kathy: Hi, I'm Kathy. I've been here for two to three years. I am also a local Dorchester, little Beantown girl, and I've been introduced to Reign through a mural project that is now sitting outside of the building itself. 

 

Johnny: Cool. So, like where you guys both here, like when Reign first started or or when it opened?

 

Amanda: Yes, I've been here since the grand opening of Reign. We've come a long way. 

 

Kathy: I came in a little after more so that it was that kids from my high school also worked here, but then I worked on the project for the mural so I would come through Reign and then we would work elsewhere. So that's how I got here. I was there for grand opening, too. But it was more about being a customer then. But now it's more, I think, part of the best community. 

And Tam wanted to create a space for the community where people could come together and have drinks that are of high quality. Yeah. Like we don't use powder, we use real, we don't use jam. We make a lot of the stuff in-house. Then whatever we outsource we make sure that it's real, that real stuff.

Johnny: Awesome, very cool. So I really think one of the things that like the similarity to both of what you guys said,that you guys are both from Boston. Yeah. Let's talk a little bit more about your upbringing in Boston, which neighborhood, etc etc.

 

Amanda: So, yeah, I've been growing up in Fields Corners since I immigrated to the States at one. So, yeah, I've been here for a while. 

 

Kathy: Her whole life. 

 

Amanda: My whole life. Yeah. 

 

Kathy:  So I was I was born in like Boston. I was born in Boston. I was part of Fields Corner, Dorchester for a while. Given given take for my whole life. Cause those times where we travel in and out, where I live in like Ashmont, but I'm still within the Viet community where I was at. 

See the rest of our interview with the Reign team—

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Johnny: So then, like, I know, like so you go from Boston, from Dorchester area and you guys are both Vietnamese right? Amanda: Yes. Kathy: Yes. Johnny: That's really awesome. And then, like, can you tell a little bit more like. Because he has been here from like through different avenues. Right. Amanda, you've been here as a manager. And then Kathy, you came in. You were still involved with the grand opening, but more like a customer. Then you're still involved in what a really meaningful Mural project and everything. Like, can you talk a little bit more about the beginning of Reign, from your own individual perspective as a customer that come in joining the team? Amanda, as somebody who's been a part of the team since the opening. Kathy: So from where I'm going to build off and she's got to do like the behind the scenes is that. So I came in as a customer, my grand opening cause I was like, oh, snap. I saw the logo outside, you know, the flask and at first. I was like, why does it look like a bar? So and then I realized it was a coffee tea shop. I was like, OK, cool, let's check it out and see what they have. And I remember the first drink. How was the Lychee green tea and so when I was there, I remember the person serving me. He was really like determined to really get like feedback on it. Well I was really fine with what it was like. I was pretty down for like the legit authenticity of like Less, less like less powder, less sugar. Yeah. Everything I thought was really cool. And then I didn't come back because back then, you know, like business open, the prices were kind of like a bit too much. So it was a little steep. Yeah. It hurt my wallet, but it was worth the tastebuds and the taste. So then eventually that was me as a customer coming back work on the mural. Likewise I from their Tam, he was like, you know, if you need to go work workplace because be like another resource. So I took the opportunity because, you know, as a STEM major, we kind of focus on just internships and everything. So I was like, you know what? Customer service is also another thing that I want to pick up on. So I came here. And so, like it was we were we weren't as big, but we were big enough to still sell off, too. So also promote our Vietnamese coffee to customers around or just kind of knew about us or just kind of popped around the corner checking in as well, like how I started, because Reign is pretty headed from the side of the building. And from there it was kind of a rough start. But the ins and outs of it was that we had really great trainers. So I knew the basics from how to do it. But also the reason why we do these things divides up the shop, the energy that we should, so making sure our customers are really happy. Something that a local shop can do more. I guess I wouldn't say better, but in the moment, being is better than a chain, you know, where people are just so used to in and out. But we really work on making sure our customers really sit with whatever taste they want and we can, like, serve it to them. Likewise, we came a long way. So changing up the way in structures of formatting of a shop was another way of building it up. Right. So interior working inside to out because we don't represent the shop just by the workers, but how we hold ourselves and how we sell our coffee long longway is now we're out here and we did a whole bunch of events such as solar pop pop ups, I like Donut Fest and everywhere else, night markets. And so that's what our name starts coming out. And those events really, really hectic. But it was hectic in the way of prepping, but it was definitely really fun and a great experience for all of our members because each and every one of them had to at least experience one of them. Right. So that made us really strong. Overall, team bonding is really great over here, too, because we're pretty small as a shop. So likewise now we stand and we're still blowing up little by little and serving the community and many of our regulars. Amanda: So I've been here since high school. How Reign started. Okay. So the whole premise of Reign is like real recognize real right. And Tam wanted to create a space for the community where people could come together and have drinks that are of high quality. Yeah. Like we don't use powder, we use real, we don't use jam. We make a lot of the stuff in-house. Then whatever we outsource we make sure that it's real, that real stuff. It's come a long way from small Reign to Big Reign. In the beginning, it was just a bunch of high schoolers and college students running the shop. So that was fun, huh? My time here, I just slowly progressed into my role. And then Tam was like a mentor to me. He taught me a lot of the things that I've learned to this day. We really try to focus on engaging with the community building relationship with customers like we see them every day. Right. So we might as well have a relationship with them so that they feel valued as a person. And some of them I've become friends with outside of the shop. So it's just a great place for people to come to meet and talk and like vibe out to the music and stuff, like we're all about vibes here, good music and good drinks, but no alcohol Johnny: And I think That's like one thing that I can definitely hear for both of your stories is that like like you came in as a customer. Now you're an employee. Yeah. And then Amanda your whole goal was to make people, especially customers feel valued. Not only as somebody who was like giving money to the business, but rather as human beings. And I think like that to me. Oh, it's like that's like the ultimate loyalty that you can really do. You can't really buy that. You can't buy loyalty. Right. You know, like if you're providing a service that's like real, authentic and genuine, like you said real recognize real right. Is that people will buy into it and they will stay with you guys. It seems like to me like I know like I drove by a number of times even while COVID and everything is happening, there's always like somebody waiting for something right now because like slow services, somebody is like, yeah, yeah. People are making their way out to ensure they're like they're supporting or a part of this. Yeah, it's really cool. So like right now, how is it looking? Like with COVID and area and everything. Amanda: So crazy for the first month, like we were not expecting how busy it would be. Like the support was crazy, like some times i couldn't breathe during my shift, just like running around trying to deal with the influx that we haven't experienced before. So with that, we had to boss up, right?. We had to figure out different ways, different strategies to try to alleviate some of the craziness that we were feeling with the influx of support, which was amazing. By the second month, we had it down. We had systems in place and then extended hours. So people were just all coming in at the time that we had it was what it was eight to three. Right. So everyone was trying to make it in during that time slot. To get the drinks, it would just be crazy. Kathy: Yeah, definitely. In the beginning is really tough because that's what everyone is like in quarantine and kind of want to leave. And yet we still feel a whole bunch of people. And so it was a lot of changes, not just for like the customers or for that the service itself, but like also in and shop employees right. We also have high schoolers and college students work at the same time. And so we were trying to make it work with our schedule and we were heading into finals and everything. So the high schoolers, thankfully they're they're like really great and they're really persistent and like helping with the business. So they made it work for the shop, changing and time and everything. It also like threw us as well as our customers off. But likewise, like Amanda said, changing the format, structuring and figuring things out made it work really well. And, you know, like in the beginning, our sales really high, too. So that was a great push for new customers because that's online sales, right? They're like, oh, we can only order out. So let's check out these places. So I think that was really great. I think the only struggles that we had that we couldn't really do anymore was customer interaction anymore. It had to be cut short. You know, as much as we want to be there for our new customers and we introduce them really well to every joint, they see their order order out or they really had decided. So we weren't there for that because we constantly just tried to push whatever we can and give them the best that we could. And for us to at least hear some feedback is the best that we did. And we heard them out. And we still cater to them. So it was great. Johnny: Like, that sounds like a really I think for a lot of places of business, it's like the whole idea is the way that you make the quickest money is like getting customers in and getting them out. But for you guys, One of the values is really making the customers feel like a part of the family. And I can only imagine how hard with this entire COVID thing where you need to somehow still do that in a shorter period of in such a short interaction. And it seems like to me, it's like, of course, it's difficult to get like like really real in-depth feedback when you're so limited. But I think the ultimate feedback is that people come back in my show that you guys are doing something right. And I think one of the things, too, and I'm hearing this, too, like throughout the entire conversation, is that those customer interaction may be limited, but you're still sharing that same feeling of like community quality and everything by providing quality service. I would like to put on that the authentic ingredients and quality. Yeah. I mean, that's like, really cool. Yeah. So I know, like, before we even start recording, I know. Like you guys are doing really well. All right. Looking to expand in everything. Here's one little bit more about what the future brings. Amanda: Yeah. So Tam has a spot opening up at the DCU Center in Worcester. It would be a way bigger space versus a little tiny home.They would be doing food and drinks like banh mi, noodle bowls, I think rice bowl. I think they're their drink menu might look a little different. So that they would be doing. Don't quote me on this, espresso. They have an espresso machine there, unlike us. We focus on just making nitro cold brew Vietnamese coffee. But that's looking into the future and hopefully be at a location in Boston after that. Yeah, that's awesome. Johnny: Yeah. And I think, like, of course, this is like audio, so we won't be able to tell. I, like you both are like fairly young. Yeah. Yeah. Right. And I think what's really cool is that like a lot of ways, like you guys are like the next generation. Right. Right. And in a lot of ways, I feel like this is like a way for kind of further spread, like Vietnamese culture. Right, to like a brand new audience. Right. Like, what are you guys thoughts about that? Kathy: I think that's pretty lit to be honest, cause given I feel like with new generation, you learn new things, learn new tactics and strategies. And I think for our generation, we're really proud of our roots. Right. So we're always out to promote, like, you know, hear me out hear my culture out. I'm gonna introduce into this one thing, and that's how we're gonna promote it. Right. Whether it's with products of drinks, products of catering or anything like that, whether we're globally just speaking from like, hey, just come out and chill with this vibe here, just kind of mixing in our roots of Vietnamese or Vietnamese American. I think that's really cool to kind of send a message out like, you know, don't be scared. We're actually here. We're in a diverse community for a reason to grow. You know, we're not here to, like, hold you back. We're not here to do anything bad. We're just here to share culture with you. I think we do that really well, especially when it comes to introducing coffee, because we specialize Vietnamese getting coffee itself. Amanda: Yeah. So I feel like a lot of Asians, right? We like, I'm not saying we all did. We're like we hated being Asian, like, you know, it wasn't cool. There's nothing cool about our food, like our food smell. That looked weird or whatever. But now we've all transition to a place in our life where we're like like this is cool. Like what we have is good and we're going to promote this and we're going to do it through different avenues. And people I just don't want to say they're eating it up, but they love it or they're embracing our culture at this point because not saying we made it easier to digest, but we made it in a way that it's more inclusive. Yeah. Versus like what our OG parents were doing because they could only do so much bridge the gap between people who have no experience there and the language barrier. And I think a lot of us, like our love language, is food. Right? Our parents, they didn't say sorry, but they said, do you want to eat now? Or like, what do you want for dinner? Here's some food. And I think a lot of us like see like in New York, like they're doing a lot of newer versions of Vietnamese food. They're doing fusion fusion or they're embracing more of the street food scene from Vietnam and bring it on over to the states, which is super cool because it's changing it. Johnny: Yeah, yeah. I definitely hear that, too, because I think I think the one thing I like everybody love Vietnamese coffee right, it's such an accessible thing. Like the Vietnamese coffee and banh mi, are two of the most accesible things. Especially and it's the easiest to digest for people who are newer to this culture. Right. I think what's really cool, too, is that you guys are taking that and also infusing like a modern lens to like nitro, like nitro cold brew Vietnamese coffee, who would've thought? Like, I think that's pretty like awesome, because then you you can totally pull in people who are brand new to this, but like maybe like a coffee snob. Vietnamese coffee hasn't always been well regarded when it comes to buying beans and stuff like that. And now it's finally it's more like respect. Right. And it wasn't because of like quality. I felt it was because of like awareness and I mean, I think was you said, you know, like food is like one of the most accessible things. Right. We may speak like different backgrounds and speak different languages. But like, food is like universal. Right. There's like good food. That's not good. Yeah. And I think it's really cool to hear if you guys are embracing your own culture, your own identity, like with the whole idea, like real recognize real other people is going to feed off of that. Right. Which I think is pretty awesome. And I think one thing I want to talk about, too, is I hear you guys saying it's like kind of your journey with, like, your own identity. Yeah. You know, and how like this. And I think like every single young Asian kid and every single young like somebody who's like a person of color or anything like that, who comes from a culture that doesn't directly reflect like American culture, goes through something very similar. And I think it's like really inspiring to hear you guys talk about yourr own journey. Right. Because I think if you go down a street as any young kids about Vietnamese culture or anything like that, they're probably the same shit. Yeah, like Durian, you know, I like all of it. But maybe we weren't so outspoken about it before. And now it's like you take pride in that. Yeah. Kathy: We can be bold about it now. Amanda: And we're like making Memes about it now. They're like subtle Asian traits thing. There's a community where we can all relate to the same shit like We've been going through, there's meme about it, thats how you know. Johnny: Yeah. Yeah. And I think that's it's really important that you guys are doing this type of work because, like, even though it's a business. Amanda: Right. Johnny: The whole goal is to make like, you know, to make money to provide for yourself and your family in the community But I think it's also like by bringing culture to the forefront. I think that's pretty much like a form of like social justice to think, especially in today's times when things are pretty toxic. All right. So. Amanda: Yeah, our space is safe. We've been able to, like, educate people on Vietnamese food or what makes our coffee Vietnamese or like they know that Pho Hoa has extended to Reign, though, putting customers on and they're like, oh, my God, I love PHO. Johnny: We can edit this out but has people ever mispronounced Pho to you? Amanda: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Someone's like Pho Hoe?. And I was like, yo A is not silent bro. It's PHO HOA. And they're like, oh, yeah. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I was like, yeah. I was like, what the fuck. Where the A go, did they just drop it? It's not a silent A bro. There's no shortcuts and there's no shit. Yeah. No, I be like up there. I keep repeating until like sounds like somewhat correct. Kathy: Yeah. Johnny: But like that's pretty like well you know that with everything that's going on with BLM. Like it's like the perfect storm and there's like so much going on. And think one of the biggest things that anybody could do as an ally like to educate. Like something as small as that. I think before in the past. We're just like whatever we stay here, at least they're supported, right? Yeah, but support means nothing without education. Right. I think you guys are doing something as small as that. I think it's like makes a big difference in it travels. Right. Amanda: It's like you're going to come with respect haha,. Kathy: But I think that's what's really good with our life. The future generations getting bold with their own culture and everything like even in or outside of shop. I remember like on campus we would get Durian and we're in dorms, you know, you think of the dorm. Honestly, it was like the strongest move ever dude was like "they're going to smell it?" I don't care. And so what? What's wrong with that? They're like "it smells" and I'm like I'm enjoying my day. So that's not going to mean anything. Like nothing's going to happen. And like butchering language, like Vietnamese, most of their words already one syllable. Right. So as most things you can do is really just kind of help them out, how to figure out how to really say it, because Pho is really just so easy to say, but it's still difficult to some and kind of like cussing them out on it is like not going to help. Amanda: Right. Kathy: So I think in all ways it's either pushing them in like the harsher way or you push them with like more more care to really learn these little things that will eventually matter. Or I want them to know that culture should matter. You should know your roots and that you show some reason why. Amanda: It's important to pass it down because the future generation or else it'll be lost or you just ship them off to grandma and grandpa in Vietnam haha ,. Johnny: Like, look like that's that's that's like the really awesome thing that you guys are really taking on this work. You know. Yeah. I like share this among other people your age and everything. Right. How old are you guys? Amanda: Twenty one. Kathy: Twenty. Yeah. So you guys are like really young. Amanda: Right. I'm just like shoving it down. Like you're going to take all of this. Yeah. Johnny: Which is like really awesome. Like, I'm thirty two. Right. It's like this. I mean, like. So it's like totally you though. Like we're we're we're like close in age now. I don't know. Amanda: You look so young. Johnny: So it's like we're close in age. Right. Like totally. Two different experiences along the way. Right. Right, right. So I think now it's like we're like ten years removed, which we like a different experience. Like things happen, more accepting but not accepting at all at the same time. Amanda: Right. Makes sense. Yeah. It's like a mixed feeling. Of thing, they just don't know still, the people who do know that you have to do it, you gotta try it! Johnny: So they think the coolest thing was that, like, I think people who are like in the thirties or whatever are trying. Right. But when they were younger, they're not maybe not as vocal because it wasn't has accepted. Right. And now you guys are able to do better really full on like fast pace. Well, like, let's make some noise. Right, shove it down people throats!Actually like educating them right as it happens real time. Amanda: Right. Like, I even do that with my Viet friends. I'm like, yo, yo, you gotta say this correctly or like V-Pop. Yeah, I'm getting into it. I'm like, you guys are gonna like this whether you like it or not. We have to pass on Vietnamese music culture over to the states, you know. Yeah. So important. Like music and food and music. Yeah. Kathy: Yeah, yeah definitely. I feel like first gens just like especially with the younger kids even younger than us. They're, they're really loud about their culture now, which is like really crazy because, you know, as a Vietnamese American, you have to know how to balance both the Eastern and Western. And so once you kind of learn to mesh it together and make it work out, I have a younger sister and a younger sibling. I've always taught them eventually basically translating from my parents because they don't speak much English. So kind of pass it on like, you know, know your roots. Pass it on. Let them know. Stand Your Ground. There's nothing wrong with it. And if anyone kind of, like, beats you up about it, it's that they're scared of something new. So why should you be scared? You came out, you know, you didn't know anything about the world. So you still had on challenges. It should still push on it. And education is like knowledge. Knowledge is power. So send them off. Johnny: Exactly! And then, like, that's really cool that you're able to up or your siblings and for your friends, you know, like just really passing it on, you know, because we all do start somewhere. Right. And I feel like as the years goes on, I feel even the older generation are starting to understand. Yeah. Right. Right. So like, for example, it's like a cycle like this. I'm like a therapist, right. My dad doesn't know/understand what I do.You like what Mental health is. So it's like before it was like you go to school. That's great. Going back to school. That's great. You're talking and getting paid somehow. Oh yeah. But that's cool. But now I feel like from ten years ago to like five years ago to now, it's been like a deeper understanding. Oh wow. Like people goes through stuff. Yeah. It's really important. Know your dad, like, you know, when you immigrated from Vietnam to over here, you went through some trauma to what you actually checked out. Amanda: Yeah, definitely. Like, you know, so it's all older Vietnamese people would benefit from therapy haha. Johnny: Oh it's like but now there's like more of an understanding, you know. And I think what's really great, I think especially the older generation to see this is see like like the young ones, like really embracing their culture. And I think you guys are really doing it and do it in your own way. Right. Right. Which I think is really important because now, like Kathy, you're saying it's like the infusion of like Eastern culturally Western culture. Right. It's like you're still holding onto what's really important to you and you're still now doing in your own way your own unique perspective of being coming, like having two cultures. Amanda: We are the fusion itself. Kathy: It's crazy thinking about it. Amanda: Look, I know I was like hold up, we go to fusion restaurant, but I am the fusion haha Kathy: Yeah, yeah. Amanda: I always, you know, the walking fusion restaraunt. Johnny: But I think it's really cool. I mean, like, I think that's pretty much it the talking piece. I'm not sure, like, Tam's getting here, but whatever. Kathy: Yeah. No, I doubt even, he's always late. Amanda: You know, it's coined I coined the term called Tam Time. He's always late to whatever he said he's coming too. Are you still coming? Kathy: He's like busy. Yeah. Yeah he is a busy man.





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Introducing

PHO HOA

Restaurant

 

Pho Hoa Restaurant was founded in 1992, and is one of the oldest dining establishments in Fields Corner. It is located on 1370 Dorchester Ave.

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Business Background and Entrepreneurial Story: 

 

  • Thanh Le (Tam Le's, owner of Reign Drink Lab, father) first immigrated to Boston, MA from Vietnam in April 1981.

  • Thanh aspired to become a doctor but found that medical school was too expensive.

  • Thanh decided to go to college, obtained a bachelor's degree, and became a software specialist.

  • When Thanh was laid off as a program analyst, he used his savings and opened Pho Hoa in 1992 in Dorchester.

  • Today Pho Hoa is one of the oldest restaurants in Fields Corner.

  • Thanh and his family decided to buy the land and built the building that Pho Hoa stands in today in 2008

  • Pho Hoa relocated to new building in 2009

  • It was a difficult process because of the recession and it created a lot of uncertainty with the mortgage (risk)

When I first opened Pho Hoa in Fields Corner, a lot of people thought it was a bad idea because of Fields Corner’s reputation at the time. I didn’t care because I wanted to serve the Vietnamese community. We created a loyal customers and 27 years later, we’re still here!

Interview with Than Le, and Tam Le

“When I first opened Pho Hoa in Fields Corner, a lot of people thought it was a bad idea because of Fields Corner’s reputation at the time. I didn’t care because I wanted to serve the Vietnamese community. We created a loyal customers and 27 years later, we’re still here!”

Thanh Le

 

“Pho Hoa is very important to me. It’s a family business. I believe it promotes and preserves Vietnamese culture through the celebration of food. It is my family’s legacy.”

Thanh Le

 

“Pho Hoa is never closed and that is something that I am proud of. When there is a blizzard, we will still be open. When it is a holiday, we will still be open. We’ve been here for 27 years and we want people to know that we have their back”. - Thanh Le


 “It wasn’t an ideal time for new construction with everything that was going on (recession, etc) but it was important for us to build this building. It was risky but we were confident in ourselves. We knew that we had to adapt and we had to continue working hard.”

Tam Le

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MORE TO COME

We'll be adding more, and more business profiles so stay tuned!

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1444 Dorchester Avenue, Dorchester, MA 02122

T (617) 474-1432  |  F (617) 474-1632

Email: director@fieldscorner.org

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