Breaking the Cyclo: After 12 Years, Cyclo in Chandler Could Use A Fresh Start
Entering Cyclo for the first time, you'll notice one thing before anything else: owner Justina Duong. On a recent summer evening, she's wearing a flowered maxi dress, dramatic false eyelashes, and a hip pixie cut. Her elegance appears effortless, like she's a guest herself. She immediately starts talking to a new customer about moon cycles and how the heat affects them, as if she's chatting with a gal pal over Cosmos.
Jackie Mercandetti Bun Cha Ha Noi (left), Bun Sai Gon (right).
After 12 years in business, it's obvious that Duong must know what she's doing at her Chandler Vietnamese fusion restaurant, Cyclo.
If you've worked in a restaurant, you know burnout is very real, so the fact that Duong spends every hour in the front of the house is quite a feat. The fact that she's been doing it for 12 years, functioning as hostess and sole server day in and day out, is amazing.
When I ask her later how she's done it all these years and still clearly enjoys it, she laughs at me.
"I fucking love it," she says without hesitation. "I enjoy serving more than ever before. People really know what's up with food now, and I'm just a talker in general. I enjoy that exchange of energy."
Jackie Mercandetti Inside Cyclo in Chandler.
Her brother helps by busing tables and running food, a friend cooks, and a couple of other people typically work as dishwashers or runners -- but that's it. Like herself, Cyclo is bright and inviting. The color scheme is sky blue and orange, with large works of art covering a wall.
When Cyclo opened a dozen years ago, it was the talk of the town, and with good reason. Good Vietnamese food was hard to find in the Valley, and it certainly wasn't a part of the collective dining consciousness then as it is now, with pho houses cropping up on every corner.