Quang Le

"Blaming an ethnic group doesn’t get us closer to ending the pandemic or finding a cure."
Quang Le

Quang Le, owner of Huong Binh Bakery & Deli, before social distancing began

My parents opened our family business in 1986 at the intersection of Columbia Pike and Four Mile Run. In 1992 we moved to Eden Center.

This is the most difficult environment in our 34 years of operation. So far, we’ve managed to remain open, keeping our employees safe while providing the right mix of Vietnamese bakery and deli products that our customers want. But our customer base is severely diminished.

Currently, most Eden Center businesses have either chosen to temporarily close, or are closed because they are considered nonessential. For those that remain open, business is nowhere near what it was a year ago.  We are all losing money—it’s just a matter of how much by the end of this pandemic. The longer it lasts, the deeper the financial pain.

Every day we reevaluate the decision to remain open, based on such factors as customer traffic, employee safety, employee availability, availability of supplies and ingredients, regulations, and the fortitude of owners. It’s a complex equation. Many of our customers are grateful that we remain open. I am aware that in some parts of the country, individuals or group of individuals are directing their anger over the crisis toward Asian Americans. I can only hope this won’t be the case here.

Blaming an ethnic group doesn’t get us closer to ending the pandemic or finding a cure.

Fortunately, I have not experienced any backlash as an Asian-American business owner.  I believe the DMV to be a diverse and tolerant region, and Eden Center is a cultural and tourist destination, just like Chinatown is for New York City.  Locals and out-of-towners come here because of the variety in Vietnamese foods, shopping, and cultural experience.

The future of my business is tied to the vitality of Eden Center. The Center’s vitality, in turn, is tied to the fortunes of small, family-owned businesses like mine and my neighbors’.

I am hopeful that maybe soon life will get back to normal. I hope there will be enough Vietnamese businesses remaining so that Eden Center can continue to be a destination for all.

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Categories: Covid Chronicles