Camdi restaurant closes after 35 years in business – The Minnesota Daily

    The Vietnamese restaurant in Dinkytown closed after facing difficulties during the pandemic.

    Camdi+Restaurant+owners%2C+Camdi+and+Kiet%2C+pose+for+a+photo+on+the+last+day+before+the+restaurant+closed%2C+Saturday%2C +March+26.  +Camdi+Restaurant+has+been+open+in+Dinkytown+for+over+35+years.

    ethan ok

    Camdi restaurant owners Camdi and Kiet pose for a photo on the last day before the restaurant closes, Saturday, March 26. Camdi Restaurant has been open in Dinkytown for over 35 years.

    Camdi, a Dinkytown Vietnamese restaurant, closed on March 26 after struggling to stay open during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Camdi and Kiet Phan, the couple who own the restaurant, said they want to retire from the 35-plus-year-old restaurant to spend more time with family, especially their grandchildren.

    The restaurant had a difficult time recovering from COVID-19, Camdi said. The restaurant spent most of 2020 and 2021 doing takeout and delivery. For delivery orders, paying companies like DoorDash was an additional cost to the restaurant.

    In recent weeks, the restaurant has been filled with former students and their families who used to come to Camdi’s restaurant when they lived in Dinkytown.

    “We see these students come and go over the years,” Camdi said. “Many return years later with their children or grandchildren to show them around the restaurant.”

    Chris Lautenschlager, executive director of the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association, said Camdi was a special restaurant. Lautenschlager said he regularly saw Camdi and Kiet cooking and talking to customers.

    “I just knew it was the place to go for really cheap, authentic food, which is a key item for anyone living near a university.” Lautenschlager said.

    Camdi, the owner of Camdi Restaurant, adorns the restaurant’s walls with her original oil paintings. After her retirement, Camdi says she hopes to spend much more time painting. (Ethan alright)

    How did Camdi come to be?

    Camdi Phan moved to Minnesota from Vietnam in 1978. She said that as an immigrant learning English, she had a hard time finding a better-paying job. As a result, she decided to open her own business.

    After a Japanese restaurant in the same location closed, the owner pressured Camdi to open his own establishment. Camdi said the restaurant’s former owner guided her through the entire business process and helped her learn how to run a restaurant.

    “We made mistakes early on, but those mistakes helped us learn how to be better,” Camdi said. “That’s what helped us be successful for so many years.”

    Hu Ly, a longtime client and friend of the Phans, said Camdi and Kiet knew each other in Vietnam before moving to the United States. After moving here separately, they reconnected and got married. Kiet, a University of Minnesota graduate, joined Camdi at the restaurant a few years after it opened.

    Ly said that when he moved here from Vietnam in the 1970s, there were few options for Asian cuisine. She would go to Camdi for an affordable, home cooked meal. Camdi grew a business that people in the community visited for the food and the environment, Ly said.

    “My favorite table in Camdi is the table by the window. You see Gray’s across the street, and that’s where Bob Dylan started. You think, ‘Wow, Bob Dylan used to live there in the apartment on the second floor,’” Ly said. “There is a lot of history to see from that table.”

    Camdi and Kiet said they’ve enjoyed running their Dinkytown restaurant, but know it’s time to move on.

    “I will miss the people who have been coming for years and the new students who are coming in for the first time,” Camdi said.