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Duc Huynh of Vinh Xuong Bakery Is the Son in the Mooncake Business

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It's that kind of dedication that makes the food at Vinh Xuong so special -- and so cheap. "People want me to move to a different neighborhood or open a food truck," Huynh says, "but they wouldn't be $3.50 sandwiches anymore."

Plus, he likes where he is now. "My whole life has been within a mile of here," he explains. His parents still live about halfway between the two stores, and Huynh and his wife live not too far from his old elementary school. "The neighborhood has been getting more hip -- gentrified," he continues. "People are riding their bikes here, bringing their families, walking dogs over."

He sees the variety of new businesses in the area, especially the restaurants, as part of the draw of Athmar Park. But he also points out that employees of nearby breweries Wit's End, Chain Reaction and TRVE (which opened offices and a barrel-aging warehouse a few blocks north) have been coming in for banh mi. "Our biggest push in business is from the marijuana industry," he adds. "Dispensaries have definitely helped business -- the employees, not the customers."

In the last month, he's noticed employees from The Green Solution coming in almost every day. With no paid advertising, Vinh Xuong relies on word of mouth to gain new customers. "A lot of my customer base are regulars," he says. "I'm surprised at how many people I meet." He sees regulars bring in friends, who in turn become regulars. Although Athmar Park is slowly gentrifying, it's still far from the center of the Denver restaurant scene. But Huynh's explanation of Vinh Xuong's growing popularity makes sense: "People are willing to travel if the food is good." The bakery's name also makes sense in this context; Huynh says the name, loosely translated, means "always expanding."

Over the years, Huynh and his family have watched Federal Boulevard evolve and grow. He still spends most of his time within a short distance of the bakery -- like his parents, he puts in long days -- but he allows himself one day off a week, which he usually spends running errands for the business. Still, he has a little more time now to explore other parts of the city. He likes the Hornet on Broadway, in part because it's an easy drive from Vinh Xuong. "I've been going there for years. It's not mind-blowing, but it's going to be the same every time and it's comfortable," he says. He also enjoys Crema Coffee House and Devil's Food Bakery.

Dinners in local Vietnamese restaurants are less frequent than when he was younger, though. "The places we used to go have changed so much," he notes. "Plus, I honestly think my dad makes the best pho I've ever had.

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Mark Antonation is the former Westword Food & Drink Editor. In 2018, he was named Outstanding Media Professional by the Colorado Restaurant Association; he's now with the Colorado Restaurant Foundation.
Contact: Mark Antonation

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