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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region.

ORAL HISTORY

Le Thi Le Nguyen, Minh Nguyen, Tuan (John) Nguyen


Le's Sandwiches and Cafe

Minh Nguyen arrived in Charlotte in 1975, after the fall of Saigon. He served four years of active military service in Vietnam during war times before coming to the United States by ship. His wife, Le Thi Le, joined him in 1979.  Ms. Nguyen was from the Vietnamese Delta, a place riddled by the effects of war. During that time, she was arrested by the government for selling fish, and spent a year in a Cambodian refugee camp before being brought to the United States by Catholic Social Services. Once here, Ms. Nguyen began making Vietnamese sandwiches, banh mi, from her home as a way to make a living and provide comfort food to other Vietnamese people. Initially, Ms. Nguyen sold her sandwiches to Asian markets in town, and then owned a shop on Central Avenue, and started a food cart, before finding her permanent space inside the Asian Corner Mall in 2004. As Ms. Nguyen and Mr. Nguyen reach retirement age, their son, Tuan “John” Nguyen, has stepped up to take over the family business.

Date of interview:
2017-05-02

Interviewer:
Keia Mastrianni

Photographer:
Peter Taylor

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