#MyStrand: Carol and Jenny Pham

comin feature image

One of the things I’ve missed the most during lockdown is grabbing lunch from one of the small businesses on the Strand.

I drop in on Co’m In Vietnamese Cafe at 69 Strand every few weeks for a baguette or soup. Craving a bánh mì, I found myself scrolling on Co’m In’s instagram @comin_vietcafe, and I just had to ask them about how things have been going during lockdown.

Thank you so much, Carol and Jenny, for agreeing to be interviewed and sharing your photos with us!

We did the interview in the last week of June, and already, life on the Strand has started to change again, even in a few short weeks. The Strandlines team would love to hear from you if you have your own Strand story to tell.

Fran – Assistant Editor, Strandlines

 


We are Carol & Jenny Pham, sisters and owners of Co’m In Vietnamese Cafe. We are a small family business that only opened in April 2019.

Usually, before COVID, we started our day around 8am or 9am, to prep the food for lunch service and we closed at 8pm. We usually go straight home after work, but if we do stay out for a drink we would go to the The Nell Gwynne Tavern. We have a thing for places with history.

After closing for a few weeks at the start of lockdown, we reopened in May when the government announced the peak was over with changes in our opening hours of Monday to Friday 12pm-3pm.
In ordinary times, the best part of the job is receiving compliments from customers, either the regulars or tourists or passersby. We have a 5 star hygiene rating so we know we are always on the right track to ensure our food is served to a high standard.
Photo via Co'm In instagram "Homemade Chả Giò - Vietnamese Spring Rolls (Pork) served with Vermicelli Rice Noodles, pickled carrots 🥕, cucumber 🥒, tomato 🍅 and our special NUOC MAM (fish sauce)."

Photo via @comin_vietcafe on instagram: “Homemade Chả Giò – Vietnamese Spring Rolls (Pork) served with Vermicelli Rice Noodles, pickled carrots 🥕, cucumber 🥒, tomato 🍅 and our special NUOC MAM (fish sauce).”

The most difficult parts of the job can be having to deal with petty thieves, gangs who came in with fake notes, or just aggressive people. We really appreciate the Northbank team’s effort to keep the streets and environment safe for businesses. The security team is always on patrol and often come as soon as we radio them for assistance. The information team is very friendly and helpful too.

Before lockdown our baguettes and rice dishes were the most popular and still remain to be now. The biggest change has obviously been the much smaller footfall.

Carol and Jenny

Carol and Jenny, owners of Co’m In Vietnamese Cafe 

It has been challenging for us to stay positive at some points. We didn’t qualify for any government’s grants and with a lot less footfall in the area while competition is still fierce, it was not easy to keep going but we are trying our best right now. People around the Strand have been physical distancing, and lots of safety measures are in place. Looking to the future, hopefully small family businesses like ours will survive even though we did not or could not receive any government grants due to the threshold on business rates, and not even taken into consideration the fact that we just opened last year.

Our message to Londoners would be: “When you support a small business, you support a dream”.

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