Love where you live!
LA MESA -- Minh Nguyen is a successful, 49-year-old architect with a firm in Carmel Valley and the kind of family history of which movies are made.
He came to America in 1975, refugees from Vietnam, and, quickly began his successful pursuit of the Great American Story; high school, college at U. Cal Berkeley and onto his own business.
On Saturday, the latest chapter in that story was playing out in a strip shopping center on University Avenue in La Mesa where Nguyen was gathered around an island in a kitchen, sketching out plans for his new business -- Slides, a gourmet burger operation he has chosen La Mesa to test out his vision. The Slides website, like the restaurant, is still under construction, but both already give a feel for Nguyen's approach.
"I originally considered starting in Carmel Valley,'' Nguyen said. "But we determined it was just a lunch crowd there and rents were more than $4 per square foot.''
So Nguyen scouted around the county and found this location, just across from Helix High School where rent was considerably cheaper and he judged the city to be ready for his idea of merging gourmet quality with the hamburger motif. The location had previously housed a cupcake store.
Nguyen said his plan is to have high quality sliders, those mini-burgers, with a secret sauce and a special roll, which will be baked on the premises. Keeping each slider well below $2, he hopes to attract customers who appreciate quality hamburgers, but don't want to pay the $10 and $12 bill that comes at some gourmet burger locations.
Ever the architect, Nguyen is in the midst of adding community tables and a counter operation which will interface with an exposed kitchen and allow easy ordering and delivery by number to guests who can choose between individual tables, communal sitting areas or some outside tables yet to be installed.
Nguyen, whose architectural firm, MBN Group Architects, has specialized in serving the federal government facilities, intends to remain working as an architect as the team he puts in place refines his concept.
"This is the first Slides,'' he says. "We expect there will be more.''
The sliders will include a range of meats, in addition to the traditional beef, and he intends to use fresh beef, chicken and pork products that have never been frozen. The staff will also offer milkshakes and a self-serve beverage station.