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As gentrification marches on across Australia’s cities, one institution that has held strong against the sweeping changes has finally surrendered. The banh mi shop.
Hong Tran Hot Bread has been an institution in the Betoota Flight Path District for over 40 years, serving up Bahn Mi, pastries and bread for extremely low prices, but all that has changed.
Tuân Nguyen(45), has run the bakery for the last 10 years after his father passed on the business to him, and says the new change in payment options is simply due to the changing face of the neighborhood.
Like many migrant founded businesses, Hong Tran Hot Bread had a healthy amount of distrust for the banks and also preferred not paying tax where it could be avoided, but changes in consumer habits and gentrification has meant the business needed to adapt.
“Things are different here now, people ask about our vegan options, or they ask where we source our meats from, things have changed a lot here.”
“No one has cash anymore, we tried our best, we had a sign that said cash only and we always told them they could use the ATM next door, but the blow to the business has become too much.”
Tuân’s decision to start taking card has become a symbol of gentrification all over the country. What was once a dimly lit bakery with no aircon and delicious banh mi’s has transformed into a trendy well lit cafe with nostalgic 1960s Vietnamese music and delicious Bahn Mi’s.
“Back then people called them Pork Rolls now everyone calls them Bahn Mi’s.”
“I remember back in the day we had to hide the fact we were Vietnamese, I think most people thought we were Chinese people with a French bakery, nowadays people love the fact we are Vietnamese owned, we even play the music my grandparents used to listen to.” Tuân said.
While Tuân is confident the move to modernise is a good one, he does say he will miss all that money saved avoiding the tax man.