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Meet Nhatha Nol-Mantia of SALTLIGHT STATION – Coffee & Pho in Allen

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nhatha Nol-Mantia.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Nhatha. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
My parents immigrated to the United States from Vietnam when I was three years old. They fled Vietnam after the war hoping to find a better life for our family in America. My parents divorced when I was eight years old. I spent a lot of time after school at my local Boy’s and Girl’s Club. I received a lot of encouragement and support from the adults who worked and volunteered there and always thought to myself that one day when I was successful, I would help others. In business school, I took an elective course on “Social Entrepreneurship” and was inspired by stories of entrepreneurs who have successfully built businesses that not only did well but also did good in the world. For the class project, I drafted a business plan about a community centered coffee shop named “Salt and Light” and hoped one day I would be able to fulfill that vision… and 15 years later…

One day my husband and I saw a “For Lease/Sale” sign on a vacant gas station property in Allen and thought it would be a neat location to convert into a coffee shop. We signed papers and began the construction project in 2017. It took eight months to completely renovate the interior and SALTLIGHT STATION finally opened for business in February 2018. We happen to serve good food and coffee beverages, but the motivating spirit behind our business is to be a special place to serve our local community.

We are soon approaching our 1 year anniversary and I am so thankful for this opportunity to fulfill my college aspiration. I am thankful for my niece, Evelyn, who left her engineering job to be my business partner. I am thankful for my husband, Vuthy, for his loving support and counsel. And we are all so thankful for our family, friends, our brethren in Christ, and every one of our customers for coming to the SALTLIGHT STATION and supporting our small family business!

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It was quite a project for us to completely gut out an existing gas station building and transform it into an aesthetically pleasing and functional coffee shop and restaurant. From design layout, getting building permits, working with contractors, to final finishes and furnishings, there were plenty of challenges along the way. But in the end, when we look at the before and after pictures, we are amazed and truly joyful to have this special public space to share with everyone!

SALTLIGHT STATION – Coffee & Pho – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
SALTLIGHT STATION is a craft community coffee shop and eatery featuring locally roasted coffee beverages and modern Vietnamese cuisine.

How did we get the name, “SALTLIGHT?”
Inspiration comes from scripture, as we are reminded to be the “SALT of the Earth” and “LIGHT of the World.” There are plenty of great eating and drinking places, but we also hope that our small family business can help season and brighten this corner of the Earth and become a gathering place that makes a positive impact on the larger community.

One of our New Year goals is to partner with local charitable organizations and help highlight their cause. We offer a new specialty beverage every month where a portion of the purchase will go to the charity. Every 4th Saturday of the month, we are hosting a benefit concert from 7-9 PM to raise funds and awareness for that charity. Please join us in supporting local!

We also have a live music venue every Thursday and Saturday evening from 7:30-9 PM. Another fun way, we are hoping to bring the community together is hosting Open Mic sessions the 2nd Saturday night of each of month. It is a great platform for up and coming musicians, comedians, and poets to share their talent! Anyone interested in performing can reach out to us at openmic@saltlightstation.com.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
It is too early yet to say how successful our new business is going to be, but I am so happy that we took the risk. I had a corporate career with 401K, health benefits, vacations and holidays. But I was spending a lot of time and energy in the office instead of with my family. I feel very blessed to be able to have a family business. The best part of this entrepreneurship journey is being able to spend every day working with the people you love!

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