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Meet Yume Tran of Indochine Cuisine in Parker

Today we’d like to introduce you to Yume Tran.

Yume, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
At 15 years old, I came to the USA as a refugee from Vietnam. I got my Bachelor’s degree in Computer Management science from Metro State College and spent 16 years building my career in technology before deciding to venture out on my own into the Restaurant business.

I started out not knowing how to cook, but loving the smells, colors, and ingredients that make up great dishes. Along with my husband Jeff Nghiem, we opened our restaurant in Parker and discovered that I have to utilize all my corporate experience and more to run a profitable business. I did not realize how hard the restaurant business is. I wanted to give up so many times but a mentor of mine said that if I gave five years to succeed in the technology world, I should at least give myself that many years to succeed in this business. I listened and started to focus on providing the best tasting food couple with sincere services. We started our restaurant in 2003 and by 2005, I focus on providing gluten-free food to my very small and loyal fan base. Coming from corporate structures with repeatable processes, I developed unique, healthy and delicious sauces so that my kitchen staff can cook with a high-level of consistency thus helping me providing jobs to people who might not have great culinary skills but can work hard and can execute the dishes perfectly every time because of the set standards and formulas I develop. Pretty soon, there were people lined up outside to come in. In 2007, a landlord in the premium building in Parker proposed to move us over to his building. He paid for most of the build-out cost and completed it in 3 months. So, we from a 28-seats restaurant to a brand-new, gorgeous 72-seats restaurant with covered front and back patios. As we reach our $1M in revenue and provide jobs to so many, we feel that we have done something right. We have been able to put our two daughters through colleges and at least be able to travel all because of the restaurant.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I always say to people that I probably made the most stupid decision of my life – leaving the stressful but solid pay to a very stressful and iffy-pay. When you own your own businesses, you are the last ones to get paid. We also did not account for all the taxes that one has to pay with your business like property taxes, FICA taxes for employees, our own health insurance. We also first made the mistakes like most restaurant owners make at one point in time – and that is thinking: as long as the food is good, people will come. Well, there is the whole side of marketing that we did not know what to do with. There were months that we did not get paid because there was not enough revenue – especially during the year of 2008 – when we first moved over to this building when the rent is four times more than the previous location and the revenue was only two times! Thank goodness….we have by that time built up such a huge fan base so they all supported us to make sure we could survive the financial crash. Staffing has always been an issue with many small businesses and we had our shares of challenges there in that as soon as you think you have gathered a great team, something always happens that require you to start over again (example: dishonest employees, employees who have questionable working ethic…)

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Indochine Cuisine has been known as a restaurant that takes great care of dietary needs of our customers. We are probably the first-ever Asian restaurant that converted 92% of our menu to Gluten-free. We are known for cooking with no MSG and not much starch. Those are common ingredients in most Asian foods but we don’t do them. It takes alot of commitment and time to come up with recipes for sauces that meet our standards but we love taking care of our customers and don’t mind the extra efforts that go into taking care of each and every customers. We are so proud that after 17 years being in Parker, we are still loved by many and that we have not lost our commitment and focus to make our place a place that people can feel safe to come and eat. What sets us apart is that we also offer cooking classes taught by me and that we have our own bottled sauces that we have been producing since 2008 and that they are being used all over the country! But what we most proud of is the young kids who work for us while in high-schools still come back and visit us from their colleges and beyond. We feel that Indochine is not just a restaurant. It is a place where we get to meet our best friends, get to give their kids the first jobs and it is the place that we get to take great care of our guests who might only be able to eat certain foods and cannot find them easily anywhere.

What were you like growing up?
When I turned 12 years old, Vietnam became a communist country so everything I was growing up with changed for the worst. Imagine your hero which is your Dad got put in political prison for 10 years. Your family was well-to-do became poor – all because of the change in the political landscape. As my Mom planned several illegal escapes for me from Vietnam to seek freedom, one of those escapes resulted in me and my younger brother got caught and were put in jail for 20 days. I was 14 and he was 9. So, my childhood was so happy before 1975 and then harsh living condition was forced upon us immediately after April 30th, 1975 so I guess I grew up quickly as many other kids had to at that time. Our days were spent thinking about escaping to America (not knowing one cannot easily sail from Vietnam to America without stopping at many countries in between). Once I made it out and ended up in an Indonesian refugee camp, I started to realize that I need to really do everything I can to survive, make it over to the USA and do well so that to make my parents proud. I was very shy growing up but more than 1 year spent at refugee camp without my family taught me to be resourceful to survive but always remember to be kind, share as much as you possibly can and always be grateful. My parents instill in all of us a sense of always focus on achieving our goals and their goals for us were very specific: engineers or doctors. Most of us ended up with Computer-related majors with my brother, an engineer and none became Doctors. Due to my escape from Vietnam, I love espionage and spy activities 🙂 . I also love reading novels that are law-related. I often said that in my next life, I would really like to be a CIA agent or and FBI agent 🙂 .

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Raemi Rue Photography for most of the pictures.

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