When the Stadium Village-based Vietnamese restaurant Bun Mi was forced to close its doors three years ago to make room for the Hub apartments, it left a void in the campus restaurant scene.
But on Oct. 8, the restaurant — now called Bánh Appétit — reopened in Dinkytown, attracting business from the campus community that sorely missed its sandwiches.
Bánh Appétit announced its reopening via a Facebook post that quickly garnered 1,200 likes. On its second and third days of business at its new location, the demand for banh mi sandwiches was so high that the restaurant sold out of food.
“Wednesday, Thursday and Friday we got crushed,” said Sherman Ho, owner of Bánh Appétit and former co-owner of Bun Mi. “It was totally unexpected [and] it was great.”
Banh mi is a traditional Vietnamese sandwich served on French bread. The most traditional recipe includes pork and liver pate, carrots, pickled daikon, cucumber, mayo spread, cilantro and jalapeños. However, the menu offers vegetarian sandwiches and gluten free options are in the works, Ho said.
Bánh Appétit adds its own flair by incorporating other Asian flavors such as Korean-inspired beef. Ho’s plans to resume the business’s operations have been in the works since the closure of Bun Mi. In the time between operating restaurants, Ho kept busy by traveling across the United States and visiting his family.
The restaurant, previously located in Stadium Village, has moved across campus to Dinkytown. Ho said he eyed locations in other parts of the city, but ultimately decided the best place for the restaurant was near campus.
“The type of food that we serve is really suited for people that are on the go,” he said.
So far, Ho said, the restaurant has seen many loyal Bun Mi customers returning. One of these customers is Dustin Lattery, a graduate student studying mechanical engineering at the University. Three years ago, Lattery said he was a regular Bun Mi customer, sometimes visiting the sandwich shop multiple times a week.
Lattery, dining at Bánh Appétit for a second time in one week, noted one of his favorite elements of the restaurant are the fries that come with the bahn mi sandwiches. Ho said he’s heard customers refer to the fries as “crack fries” for their addicting taste.
Despite a new location and name change, the menu is the same overall. Ho said the only major changes are to the names of menu items. Tenzin Dongag, a diner at the restaurant, said it was unique that the restaurant served their bread warmed. Dongag frequents different banh mi restaurants multiple times a month. He and his friends said they usually bring their business to a banh mi sandwich shop in St. Paul, but they stopped in to try out Bánh Appétit.
“Everything’s delicious and it comes out fast too,” he said.
Bánh Appétit is still in the process of a soft opening, but Ho said there are plans for a grand reopening event soon. In the meantime, customers seem content with having the restaurant back in business.