Life & English: Mom-and-Pop (Part 1)

Mom-and-Pop businesses have minimal employees, usually have only a small business volume and typically are not franchised, with only a single location. Mom-and-Pop restaurants, stores and other services are popular in the United States…

In cities and suburbs, we could see many Mom-and-Pop restaurants of Mexican, Chinese, Vietnamese and others. The first generation of immigrants usually was not fluent in English, so they often opened small restaurants, small stores or shops with simple services. They operated these small businesses to earn a living for their families, and to support their children go to school. Immigrant children often became fluent in English and could receive a good education. So the second generation often preferred professions like doctors, attorneys, engineers, teachers and other good jobs with higher paying. Very few second generation people wanted to continue in their parents’ small business. Mostly, they only continued to work with their parents if they could not get better jobs. Doctor, attorney, engineer, teacher and college educated careers in the professions were the American dream of both generations, the first and the second. However, when these Mom-and-Pop businesses needed more employees, owners would hire from among their relatives or countrymen. Most of them were not fluent in English and a source of cheap labor. In these restaurants, the owners and staffs often conversed in their native language, speaking English if guests were of different languages.

Inside of a Mom-and-Pop restaurant

I’ve lived in the US for several years but haven’t seen Mom-and-Pop restaurants run by white or black Americans. I thought that most white or black Americans born in the US and had good education opportunities. English is their native language. They have many good opportunities to get good jobs in large companies or government offices. Then one day, a friend told me about an American Mom-and-Pop restaurant. It is a business of a family with 14 children! They have a restaurant and an adjoining variety store. I was surprised by the number 14, a very large family! So my friend took me to this restaurant. It was truly very special. The name of the restaurant is Healthyums. The photos of the entire family, all 16 members were hanging on the wall of the restaurant. They were 16 photos of parents and 14 children; 16 bright, nice and cute faces.

(Please continue to see the Part 2 of this story)

Quy Minh

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