Hilda Tov and her sons waited more than 10 years to get into the restaurant business, and although they’ve had many setbacks, that won’t stop them from holding a “grand opening” of sorts Thursday for their banh mi shop in south Minneapolis.
D’s Banh Mi, 1848 E. 38th St.*, won’t officially open at 10 a.m. on Thursday as initially announced, but instead will host an event introducing the business to the community with free food samples, music, and a dance performance. The event will run until 1 p.m.
“It’s been really long; we thought it was gonna be sooner,” Tov said. “But now we’ve learned a lot. We’re really excited.”
The heavily anticipated banh mi shop was first expected to open in November of 2022, according to reporting from Racket. Tov said building and permit issues with the city have continued to set the date back, and even as of Wednesday morning, she said, they still didn’t have the green light from the city to open the building to the public.
It’s unclear when the business can begin directly selling food from its storefront. It currently offers food delivery six days a week; food is prepared at a commercial kitchen in White Bear Lake.
The restaurant will be Tov’s second business. She also owns Hilda’s Hair Hut, located about five blocks away on Cedar Avenue. It’s the first business for her sons—oldest son Dylan Tran is the chef at D’s Banh Mi, while younger brothers Dyon Tran and Dustin Nguyen serve as partial owners.
“Owning a salon and a restaurant are totally different,” Tov said. ”And then the dynamic of working with your family too.”
Tov said she grew up in her family’s Vietnamese restaurant in California, and has tweaked some of their recipes and adapted them for Minnesotans to enjoy at D’s Banh Mi.
“My eldest son wanted my recipe to open this, so I am behind the scenes,” Tov said.
The idea for the restaurant came more than 10 years ago when Dylan Tran started working in restaurants at 18. Tov suggested he start his own.
“I asked him and he said, ‘No,’ he doesn’t want to. And I understand,” Tov said. “He’s young and he didn’t want the responsibility.”
Fast forward to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Dylan Tran’s job at a local restaurant slowed down, so he and his family considered opening a business. Tov already had a realtor looking for potential locations, and they settled on their current spot at 38th Street and Longfellow Avenue in Minneapolis.
The spot is best known as home to the iconic Dave’s Popcorn and Carmelcorn stand, and briefly sold ice cream and hot dogs under different ownership. Unlike those former seasonal businesses, Tov and her sons plan to be open year round.
D’s Banh Mi will serve a variety of banh mi sandwiches, spring rolls, and noodle bowls, including vegan options, to go. Seating will be limited to some outdoor wooden tables in front of the stand.
Tov said although she and her sons have been frustrated with the delayed opening, they remain optimistic about the restaurant, and haven’t let the many setbacks keep them down.
D’s Banh Mi has been operating its delivery service for a few months as permit issues kept pushing back the opening date.
“Because we had so many mishaps, now when we do have another one, we quickly try to find a way to fix or continue on without dwelling on what the situation is,” Tov said.
In the meantime, the restaurant is offering online delivery between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesday through Sunday.
*CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article misidentified the address of D’s Banh Mi.