While Evelyn's (named after Nguyen's wife) offers a range of coffees, lattes and milk teas, it isn't the average coffee shop. Tapping into Nguyen's family history, Evelyn's specializes in Vietnamese iced coffee and bánh mì sandwiches, and there's a concerted emphasis on creating an inviting atmosphere for customers.
Nguyen's parents emigrated from Vietnam, and he grew up in Akron. While in school as a way to support himself, he worked in different restaurants, and explained that the pleasure of sharing good food never left him.
"Drawing from my own experiences as a student, I was always looking for that special place to relax, read, study and recharge with a cup of coffee and some good food. I hope to provide that kind of environment for local students," said Nguyen.
Evelyn's Coffee, which celebrated its grand opening on July 22, 2020, is the latest participant in Start Downtown
, a Downtown Akron Partnership (DAP) program that provides six months of support, including site selection assistance, rent subsidies and marketing support to new and expanding businesses locating in retail or office space in the 42-block Special Improvement District of downtown Akron.
DAP Director of Business Development Laura Engle said, "Vietnamese coffee and sandwiches are exciting additions to the downtown neighborhood's range of food and drinks options. Evelyn's proximity to the University of Akron campus and housing makes it an ideal retreat for students, faculty and staff in search of great coffee and delicious, affordable fare."
Alumni of Start Downtown (originally called the Pop-Up Retail program) include Rubber City Comics, Chill Artisan Ice Cream, the Experience Barber and Beauty Shop and more than 35 others. The project is funded by Burton D. Morgan Foundation.
Evelyn's Vietnamese iced coffee is drip-brewed smooth and bold with sweetened condensed milk. Bánh Mì Vietnamese sandwiches consist of a short, crispy, toasted bread with a soft interior, split lengthwise and filled with savory ingredients including beef, chicken, and pickled vegetables. Evelyn's offers bánh mì with cucumber, pickled vegetables, cilantro and avocado mayo. Options include lemongrass chicken or beef, Korean beef, meatball and Dac Biet, a combination of chicken and pork.
Other menu items include papaya salad, Kimbap (seasoned rice with fish cakes, carrots, egg, and spinach and rolled in seaweed), dumplings, as well as a selection of pastries, baked fresh and in-house, ranging from scones to blueberry muffins and cookies.
Evelyn's Coffee and Bánh Mì is open Monday - Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.