In the Works
by Sally Mitani
"Everything is a mess," Te Phan apologizes, picking his way around large hulks of brand-new restaurant equipment. Though he has no opening date yet for Ginger Deli, it's clear he has made a major commitment.
The Ginger Deli will be a series of Vietnamese takeout windows, with food all coming from a central commissary on South Main, a few doors down from the South Main Market in the building that has held the Ark and the Firefly Club and is currently home to Ann Arbor School for the Performing Arts.
Phan hopes to have a takeout window on his South Main site, though the first one will most likely be at Versailles Natural Skin Care & Cosmetics on the corner of Liberty and Division, which is owned by his mother. Phan shows drawings of a takeout window on the Liberty side.
Phan trained to be an auto designer and has a degree in industrial design from Cleveland Institute of Arts, but he's also a cook. "I'm all about cooking and drawing right now," he says, apologizing for his English (which needs no apology). He's trying to design packaging for his Vietnamese food that is beautiful and functional. He's particularly fond of one of his prototypes--a three-level bento box made of waxed card stock--but knows he's going to have to scale down to something more affordable.
[Originally published in September, 2013.]