Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Lisa Tran, Co-Owner of Tan Tan Cafe & Delicatessen and Owner of Tan Tan Foods, located in Beaverton, OR, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Tân Tân Cafe & Delicatessen is located in beautiful downtown Beaverton, a suburb of Portland, Oregon. We have been proudly serving authentic and delicious Vietnamese food for over two decades. In 2017 we launched Tân Tân Foods, introducing the very first retail line of vegan certified and gluten-free certified Vietnamese sauces on the market.
Tell us about yourself
Tân Tân means New Beginnings, and it was a new beginning that our family was looking for when my parents escaped Vietnam after Saigon fell. Leaving professional careers behind and risking their lives, my parents did their best to raise me in the Indonesian refugee camp where I was born. Optimistically looking for a new beginning in the United States, my parents translated their love of food and cooking into the aptly named Tân Tân Cafe & Delicatessen in Beaverton over two decades ago, bridging our traditional flavors with our adopted home in Portland, Oregon. In 2017, I began my journey of new beginnings when I launched our retail line featuring the most popular sauces from the restaurant. Today, our family is proud to introduce the very first vegan-certified and gluten-free certified Vietnamese sauces on the market, and we're excited to extend this invitation to join us on this New Beginning!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
After having co-owned the restaurants with my parents, I was motivated to find a more stable career after welcoming twins. Launching the retail sauce line on my own was terrifying because running a CPG brand is completely different from running a restaurant. Today, the biggest accomplishment is that we've been able to share Tân Tân flavors with customers beyond our restaurant, with our sauces being sold in over 2,000 retailers, some as far as Ireland!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The restaurant industry was hit especially hard during the pandemic, and Tân Tân Cafe was no different. However, our retail sauce sales took off as more folks started cooking from home! Learning to pivot is an essential skill for a business owner!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Be open-minded. Vision boards and wishlists are a great jumping-off point, but the reality of running a small business can be vastly different. Something you think your customers want can change when you actually put forth your products. Be open to pivoting your business, but don't sacrifice your values.
- Seek out mentors. Those who have walked before you, especially those who work (or have worked) in your field, have a tremendously valuable toolkit of experience to work from and, in many cases, are willing to mentor if they share your vision. These people can guide you and provide insights you may not have even thought of. The best lessons are learned from those who have walked before you.
- Believe in yourself. Entrepreneurship can be one of the most difficult careers one can find themselves in, but remember that you believe in your business and product. Imposter syndrome is a real thing, but don't fall into its trap.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
No matter where you are on the entrepreneurship journey, just being here and reading this is a great sign that you're on the right path. It means you are curious enough to learn more! Best of luck!
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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