Upisode 43: Restaurateur Yenvy Pham brings Ian the best sweetbread ever baked or eaten and between bites, the two talk about the managed uplift of Little Saigon as the city changes around it, and sometimes changes it, too. Yenvy, whose parents founder Pho Bac after coming to Seattle as Vietnam War refugees, describes how nightlife can “activate” the community, making it safer and prosperous, even though fixed community investment can be difficult for refugees and other immigrant communities.
About Yenvy Pham
Born at Swedish Hospital Yenvy Pham, along with her family, has been a fixture of the Seattle community her whole life. So it was a long time coming when Seattle Magazine named her one of 2018’s most influential people in the region after she and her siblings Quynh and Khoa Pham launched Pho Bac Sup Shop, a new take on the old, beloved Pho Bac chain restaurant opened by their parents in 1982. Yenvy has attracted attention since then not only for her central role in bringing her family’s legacy into the 21st Century, but her seminal role in preserving economic opportunity for Little Saigon as the city around it gentrifies.
Yenvy’s parents, Vietnam War refugees Theresa Cat Vu and Augustine Nien Pham, who were featured in the immigration documentary series Charcoal Sky by Zia Mohajerjasbi, founded the original Pho Bac, colloquially known as ‘the boat,’ in 1982 despite never having made pho before coming to the U.S. Over time it grew into a Seattle landmark, and Yenvy describes with great passion her desire to make sure Little Saigon and the broader Vietnamese community. She has worked tirelessly with Friends of Little Saigon and the Sticky Rice Project to make the neighborhood a cultural destination, and a safe spot after hours, major changes from years past.