Vietnamese restaurant, owner in limbo in Corner Brook
New Canadian's popular eatery shut down on short notice after building deemed unsafe
A popular new restaurant in Corner Brook was shut down on short notice last week after inspectors found serious problems with the wiring in the building.
Pho Vietnam was the only Vietnamese eatery in the province until about 6:30 last Friday night.
That's when workers with Newfoundland Power arrived to cut power to the building at 27 Humber Road, which also houses several apartments.
The suddenness of it all came as a shock to restaurant owner and new Canadian Thy Nguyen, known as "Cathy" to her friends and many customers.
"Very bad, very sad," she told CBC in broken English.
Ngyuen, 37, arrived in Corner Brook last fall from Saskatoon where she had lived for three years before receiving permanent resident status.
She was working three jobs there, trying to get by. After stumbling on a Kijiji ad for a restaurant opportunity, and learning there were no Vietnamese eateries in Newfoundland and Labrador, she packed up her second-hand SUV and drove to the province.
Nguyen opened Pho Vietnam in September, and ran the place by herself until its increasing popularity allowed her to hire some help.
The restaurant was packed, with both in-house and takeout orders pouring in, before the power was cut to the entire building Friday night.
Nguyen said building inspectors had come by the day before to look at the electrical system.
She said she was told by the landlord, Janet Ma, that it was a routine, annual check, and nothing to worry about.
Turns out Ma was wrong.
Nguyen was left with few options and little time to move loads of food, pots and pans. Neighbours and friends have been storing the food in their freezers and sheds until the electrical is upgraded or Nguyen can find a new location.
One of those friends and loyal customers, Jerry George, said the situation should've been handled differently.
"I fail to understand that there couldn't have been some level of notice or working with the business owner in order to be able to facilitate even a few days, or some way, or providing some kind of source of help or something," he said.
The apartment tenants also had to leave on short notice, and can't return until the upgrades are made. Inspectors say that could take several months, assuming the landlord complies. So far, Ma will only say she's too angry and upset to talk about the situation.
Nguyen, meanwhile, continues to weigh her options, aided by her father who had just arrived from Vietnam to help his daughter run her restaurant.
"I try and stay in Corner Brook. I like Corner Brook. The customers here are really good and very nice. And I will go on opening business for them," she said.