Meet Teresa Nguyen, co-owner of Ba Bar in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood and University Village. Teresa and her husband, Eric Banh, opened Bar Bar in 2011 to offer their creative take on Vietnamese street food as well as incredible cocktails. Some of Teresa’s favorite items on the Ba Bar menu are the Phở Tái Oxtail and Mì Vịt Tiềm — the latter featuring Maple Leaf Farms duck confit. Throughout the past year, Ba Bar has worked hard to support their community, including giving free and discounted meals to healthcare and hospitality workers.
Get to know more about Teresa and Ba Bar in this week’s Business Spotlight Q&A.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What’s something your customers may not know about you or your business?
I think a lot of people still don’t know that Ba Bar and Monsoon are related. Eric, my husband, and his sister opened Monsoon 22 years ago, and so Ba Bar is a younger sibling that we opened almost 10 years ago — we’ll celebrate 10 years in July. We still have new customers come in and say, “We love Ba Bar food.” I ask them where they eat other Vietnamese food and they say, “Monsoon!”
As a business owner, what’s the strangest or craziest idea you’ve ever tried?
In 2019, when [Eric and I] got married, we went to Europe for the first time. We went into this restaurant, and they served escargot Vietnamese style. We were like, “Oh my gosh, we haven’t had this for a long time!” So Eric and I ate two orders of escargot so fast, and Eric was like, “Let’s bring this back to Ba Bar!” We did try it, but it was not well received so we carried it for about three months [she laughs]. Finally, we said, “OK, maybe it’s not for Seattle.” Maybe someday! [she laughs]
Why is it important to you and your business that people #SpendLikeItMatters?
Being in Seattle and escaping from Vietnam to America, where you have so much freedom, is a huge risk. Eric kept saying, “It’s in our DNA that we’re big risk takers and we want to try something new. We want to be creative, we want to bring our passion and share it with other people.” Growing up in Vietnam, my mom was a big entrepreneur — she would try all kinds of stuff. After the fall of Saigon, it was very tough if you know about Vietnam history. I saw my mom being an entrepreneur from selling rice to selling wood to having a small business of a lumber company. So, I’ve always thought that someday I would be an entrepreneur, having a small business like my mom.