By Annie Kinnett Nichols
There’s really not a name for what Quynh Trinh – known as Q – has created in East Atlanta: part food hall, part pop-up, part time-share. Whatever you want to call it, the Global Grub Collective has lines out the door and foodies raving about the diversity of cuisine on offer by a group of rotating restaurants.
It began with Q’s own Vietnamese restaurant We Suki Suki, which has been serving up award winning barbecue pork banh mi since 2012. But depending on the day or evening, We Suki Suki becomes the Avenue Q pop-up, or street food mash-up Chop Chop Next, or La Parada Cuban Kitchen featuring rice and bean bowls, or Q Urban Chop Bar with its chicken and waffle sandwiches.
Last year, Q took over a space next door to create more room and seating, along with partners Cake Hag, which makes homemade desserts, and Le Metro Creperie, with its sweet and savory French crepes. In the space, East Atlanta Breakfast Spot operates in the mornings with its build your own buttermilk biscuit before giving way to home-style Italian cooking from Poco Pomodoro.
Things really get to shaking on the weekends, especially for those who want a late-night nosh: Midnight Marauder offers snacks from midnight to 4 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, while Sevim Mutfak offers Turkish delights from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. on Saturdays.
Q has made makes owning a restaurant completely affordable. She also teaches and trains everyone who works for and with her. The Global Grub Collective partners all get profit sharing, bonuses and know where every single penny of their restaurant goes whether it be food, supplies or employees. It’s kind of a food boot camp.
Q’s early life plays out like a film. Her grandparents were shot in front of her father and her family caught the second to last helicopter out of Saigon in 1975 as the city fell. After leaving Vietnam, her family of 10 found themselves in Minnesota living with a kind couple that helped them learn English and adapt to American life.
She started her first restaurant at 16, but she had an interesting array of jobs before opening We Suki Suki, including running a vineyard, a stint as a VJ for MTV Vietnam and a brand rep for Tiger Beer.
When she decided to go back to her roots and open a restaurant, she did it frugally. “I started with $99 in cash and made 50 sandwiches, which sold out the first day,” she said. “That gave me money to buy food for the next day.”
Her initial equipment set up was two Foreman grills, a toaster and a coffee maker. Q now uses four Foreman grills and two toaster ovens, along with five employees.
Q is interested in working with more restaurant start-ups. “I’ll be hard on you,” she said. “I need to know you’re 100 percent committed and you will know everything you need to know to survive in the restaurant business while supporting the community around you. I believe you have to do what you love, work with people you believe in and create products that your heart is invested in.”
For more about the Global Grub Collective, visit wesukisuki.com.