Paris Banh Mi restaurant chain to open in Collierville, bringing 'real banh mi' to Tennessee

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Tin Nguyen came to this country from Vietnam when he was just four. His family — including parents Hanh "Kathy" and Son and brother Tim — settled in Memphis.
His first memories of the city involve how cold it was — there was a big snowstorm the year he arrived. Other memories include the food. He said his parents cooked mostly Vietnamese food at home, so his introduction to American food was through the school cafeteria — chicken nuggets, tacos, cheeseburgers.
Nguyen and his fiancee Katherine Frensley will open the area's first Paris Banh Mi in the area later this year.
Nguyen is currently a practicing psychiatry resident in school in Nashville. Frensley is a textile artist. The couple plan to marry in 2025 and the restaurant, which is a franchise based out of Florida, is a gift from Nguyen's parents.
When Nguyen's parents first came to Memphis, they arrived with nothing. They had no careers to fall back on, so they established Kathy's Nails and now have three locations.
Nguyen said he and his brother Tim, who works as a biomedical engineer for FEO Medical, were greatly influenced by his parents' work ethic.
"They worked seven days a week for about 12 hours a day. So, days off were rare," he said. "We've always learned that working harder pays off."
Paris Banh Mi has about 30 restaurants, mostly in Florida. It serves an array of banh mi sandwiches, which traditionally features a French baguette, pickled vegetables, a pate, and a variety of meats. The menu also features burgers, croissant sandwiches, and bun rolls. Paris Banh Mi also offers French-style baked goods as well as an extensive line of teas and slushes.
"There was a lot of hype in the Vietnamese community about it because of the quality of the food itself and the way it modernized the banh mi scene," Nguyen said. "It's probably the most authentic, but still good banh mi around the state. There was a lot of hype around this new franchise that [shares] the Vietnamese culture with American people. It really resonated with me."
The new, 2,400-square-foot restaurant will be at 255 New Byhalia Road in Collierville. Barry Maynard and Frank Dyer III of Gill Properties represented the Nguyens.
The space has meaning for Nguyen. One of the Kathy's Nails is located in that center. He said he spent a lot of time in that shopping center when he was younger.
Nguyen's mother will manage the restaurant, while Frensley will help run the business. Frensley will be particularly instrumental in the business when they open other locations in the area. They are considering planting the flag around the University of Memphis, Cordova, and, further down the line, Nashville.
"I think there was some need to bring banh mi to Tennessee," Nguyen said. "Around this area, it's not a real thing. I think what most people think of banh mi is not a real banh mi."

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