The first question always asked when a new restaurant concept opens is ‘where did you come up with the idea?’  It’s funny, really, because there’s no exact answer to this question – the same way it’s impossible to pinpoint that ‘one’ experience that leads a writer to write a book or inspires an artist’s first paint stroke on a blank canvas.  ‘Creating’ a restaurant concept is an accumulation of years of experience, sampling hundreds of meals in an endless number of restaurants throughout the world. With a collection of friends, family and work associates to share,  the most important skill is to maintain a rock solid memory while at the same time, being able to compartmentalize all the experiences, places, and dishes of food consumed.  It all builds some kind of encyclopedic reference in my mind that, for some reason, is able to categorize and sort like a Dewey Decimal System.  (Yes, I’m just old enough to say I used that library system!)  So when someone comes to me and says, ‘do you think we can do a really cool restaurant that specializes in the Banh Mi?’, my mind immediately starts to sort out all the banh mi I’ve ever eaten, recalling the flavors, the palate drivers, the textures, the atmosphere and all elements that surrounded those wonderful experiences of eating this vibrant sandwich and, voila, the paint strokes begin.  A great collaboration, as is the case with Banh Shop, brings together a team of folks that all share the same passion for food, and all have something to contribute to bring to life a new restaurant concept that, hopefully, expresses the years of experience that each member adds to the recipe for success.  Let the painting begin!

Mark H. Brezinski