Pham's Rice Bowl in Midtown Global Market rebuilding after pandemic, damage during unrest

Callan Gray
Updated: July 03, 2020 05:46 PM
Created: July 03, 2020 12:29 PM

Between COVID-19 and the unrest in the Twin Cities, businesses are struggling to reopen and get back on their feet. 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has partnered with the Neighborhood Development Center to help those hurting the most.

With every order, Midtown Global Market hums back to life inside the old Sears building.

“Our neighborhood views this as sort of a beacon of hope for south Minneapolis,” said Trung Pham, owner of Pham’s Rice Bowl. “We really want to keep this place in-tact for them and service them.”

Pham opened his business 16 years ago. For three and a half months this spring, however, the pandemic kept them closed.

“Which tremendously affected our revenue,” said Pham.

Just as they were getting ready to reopen, they were vandalized by some people who took to the streets following George Floyd’s death.

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“Our cash register is about 40, 50 pounds they came in and smashed that up,” said Pham. ”They cut the wire, they smashed up the cash register thinking there may be cash but we (were) closed for three months, and so we didn’t have any cash in there.”

They also smashed the new glass partition he put up to separate customers from staff at the register during the pandemic. A cabinet with electronics, cookware and food supplies were damaged as well.

“My first thought was oh boy how am I going to rebuild this,” he said. “But really in comparison to what really happened along the Lake Street corridor - immigrant businesses that burned down that can probably never rebuild again, the situation with George Floyd and what's going on that needed to be brought to the forefront of attention - really what happened to us is really just a blip.”

He said they were able to clean up in a couple of days, reopening about two weeks later.

About three or four other businesses in Midtown Global Market also sustained damage, according to Pham.

“We had a great security crew that was here and within half an hour, they were able to confront the rioter and they were able to get them out of the market,” he said. “I can't imagine what would happen if we didn't have that great security team that was here because, as you see along Lake Street, there was a significant amount of fire that occurred so that could’ve been a disastrous situation for us.”

Pham said there are hundreds of people who live in the apartments above the market.

He is encouraging people to visit south Minneapolis, despite the burned down buildings and boarded up stores.

“This has been a very vibrant neighborhood,” he said. “We know, we have hope and I'm pretty confident we can build this thing again and it's going to be better. My message out there is folks from the surrounding community, come down and support us. Don’t be afraid, we are open here for business and we are ready to go.”

Despite their own hardship, Pham has also been giving back during the pandemic by providing meals to healthcare workers at Abbott Northwestern Hospital. 

“I’m thinking to myself 'what can I do because I feel so helpless,'” he said. “So we approached the Abbott folks and we were able to make contact.”

With the help of the Neighborhood Development Center, a GoFundMe page was started to help raise money to offset the food costs.

They’ve now donated more than 3,000 meals to healthcare workers. Pham said they will continue for as long as they can.

He is also appreciative of the Neighborhood Development Center’s help over the years, especially when he was launching his business.

“They are a great partner with all of the vendors here,” said Pham. “They’ve provided me with an opportunity to start my own business. As an immigrant, coming here we always want to have that drive to work hard and they helped us achieve our American dream. We truly appreciate what they're doing, not just for us here in the Midtown Global Market but various communities throughout the Twin Cities to help elevate that neighborhood and the community together to build a better neighborhood.”

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