Thursday, August 21, 2008


On August tenth I lamented the passing of a number of restaurants around downtown, expressed as some litmus for active residential status. Certainly, I hinted, we must really live here. We can now wax crotchety about the good old days. One of the restaurants I cited was the fabulous Alibaba, previously on Lê Thánh Tôn Street near the river. I'll quote me:

"...the manager informed us personally one night that the restaurant was relocating. We were given their new address on new business cards, a map on the back and everything."*

I'd meant to take pictures of that lima bean green shoebox restaurant, but never did. Shortly after our warning, a metal garage-type door was rolled over the entrance. Then the whole shoebox building was knocked down. There's nothing left but a pile of bricks. For a month the relocation banner hung over a neighboring business, but eventually even that disappeared. Since then, I've sought the new location printed on those cards. Addresses can be wonky here. I've looked in widening spirals pretending the business card map was printed upside-down or backwards, rationalizing other corners they might've meant. But Alibaba was gone. The logical corner is a creepy cement tenement, the surrounding area a dark patch between brightly lit main roads. Earlier tonight we ran into that manager hailing us from the open doorway of his new three-week-old Alibaba Restaurant location. Apparently, he'd been totally conned, red taped, bamboozled out of thousands in down payments and useless business cards. For months his business has been homeless. Now he's recently reopened many corners away from that creepy tenement. He seems to have missed us as much as we've missed him. It's a better litmus for residential status: even after months restaurant managers still recognize us from across the street. [Cavin]

Then, a 0 sided conversation ensued...

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