A few episodes of the "Great Food Truck Race" might have inspired Anh Nguyen's new direction, but pure determination fueled her arrival on Georgia Avenue this September.
"I was on craigslist just browsing around, and I saw this ad saying they have used food trucks for sale for $17,000 to $20,000. I thought that was something I could afford," said Nguyen, a 26-year-old entrepreneur.
The resized trailer that now houses Bánh Mì Annie took five months to build and cost more than Nguyen expected. She used all of her savings and received help from an investor to get her new food business rolling.
"Bánh Mì means sandwich in Vietnamese. It can have different things, but the original has mayo, pâté, bologna and other cold cuts," explained Nguyen. "We top it with pickled relish, cucumber, cilantro and jalapeno."
Vietnam is where Nguyen lived until her grandparents sponsored her family's move to the U.S. in 1999. The food truck owner worked in a bakery throughout high school and college. She then started a career in human resources while working two other jobs to save money. She used part of it to help other relatives come to America and the rest went into her new business.
"A week after I started, some people came by and said, 'I see you here many days and I finally decided to try it,'" added Nguyen.
The Bánh Mì is not an easy item to find in Silver Spring. Adam Schifter spotted the trailer from across the street. He ran over to check out Nguyen's version of the sandwich.
"I've had them in the past, and they are the tastiest, freshest sandwiches I know," said Schifter, a Silver Spring resident.
Each morning, Nguyen preps the ingredients for the sandwiches filled with a choice of pork, roasted chicken or cold cuts. They cost $6.00 each. She also sells the crispy spring rolls she makes for $1.00. The fresh summer rolls with shrimp are two for $4.00.
She also sells hot soup and drinks, including Vietnamese coffee and fresh-squeezed limeade. At least five new customers tried out the sandwiches on the day of this interview, including a Bánh Mì fan who lives in downtown Silver Spring.
"I checked out the website and saw they'd be here," said Megan Moriarty. "I usually go to Wheaton for them, so it's nicer to have them closer to my apartment."
Nguyen is trying to spread the word about her Vietnamese sandwiches by passing out flyers and business cards. If she gets a lot more regulars, she hopes to hire her sister, and eventually offer customers other choices.
"I hope for it to grow. Maybe if we make enough money, I can build myself a real truck with a stove, so I can actually cook in it," said Nguyen.
The Bánh Mì Annie truck is parked in the 8600 block of Georgia Avenue Monday through Wednesday as well as Friday and Saturday. It is in Bethesda on Thursdays. The hours are 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., rain or shine. Free delivery available for downtown Silver Spring on orders of $10 or more.
Note: This is a restaurant profile, not a review. Opinions expressed do not represent the ideas of the writer or Patch.