OMG! WTF? Eat at a food court? You have to be joking! ...Don't you?
Food courts are "eat and leave' aren't they? No, not this one. Google says "People typically spend 1-3 hours here".
The most frequent question we are asked is "how did you come up with the idea?". Well the truth is that Dong Vui found itself.
Dong Vui opened in November 2016, with (wait for it) 28 shops! What?! 28? Yes, 28.
There were just too many cooks and not enough customers, so very quickly the shops began to empty, and Dong Vui was in trouble.
The original idea was to bring street vendors into a single place. The vendors insisted that nobody could serve the same food as anybody else. Fundamentally the idea was good. But with cooks leaving and no new money coming in, Dong Vui was not looking good.
It was put up for sale in mid 2016, and, with absolute zero budget, the new owner started to clean it and fix it himself. Some new kitchens were added, and draught beer was deliberately sold at a loss in order to attract customers. Dong Vui began to climb the ranks of TripAdvisor.
A stroke of luck, the "mass fish death" in central Vietnam sent tourists south, and suddenly Dong Vui was full! For 6 weeks we burned electricity cables and sucked water out of a dry well. But we made it! Our reviews were pulling in some many people that we couldn't find enough tables and chairs.
August ended, the tourists left, and the police arrived. Oops. We'd been so busy we had not paid attention to Vietnam's laws. A forced 2 month break from business saw the foreigners get on the right side of the law, just in time open for high season 2016/17.
Wham! Once again we could not seat everyone, could not cook fast enough, could not get enough electricity. And we were still selling beer at a loss.
We were TripAdvisor number 1, rock solid.
But once again the holiday makers left and once again the police arrived. We were using so much water that we couldn't rid of it. There's no public sewage pipe here, so we had major problems.
And the big dilemma hit hard: Either fix the water problem, or shut down, get out.
Six weeks later we rented the neighbouring land and started a complete rebuild. Still selling beer at a loss, the work lasted for 4 months, with most of the kitchens being relocated, but without closing Dong Vui for even one day.
After a big redesign and an new vision for the food court that thinks it's a restaurant. The all-new bigger Dong Vui came into existence in September 2017. With 16 kitchens and a central bar, every kitchen focuses on a single theme. It really is "something for everyone".
So we thought we were finished, but oh no! Don't believe it. Since then we added more waste water processing (we deal with 10-15,000 litres a day) and laid our own electricity supply all the way to the local substation (we now have 3 phases all running at 60-70 amps). It's been an epic journey.
We're not on TripAdvisor anymore, and now most of our advertising is "word of mouth". This website is our first attempt at proper publicity and marketing.
We really love it when we see how much people like Dong Vui, and that's the reason we continue to do what we do. Without that, we would have stopped in May 2017.