Introduction: Eden Center, the iconic Vietnamese shopping and dining spot, has provided goods, services and food, and contributed to Vietnamese community in DC metropolitan Area for a very long time. Today, we interviewed Mr. Graham E. Eddy, a member of the Eden Center property management team, to learn more about the management side of the center. Mr. Eddy graduated in 2002 from University of Virginia, School of Law. Over the last 10 years, Mr. Eddy has worked in many areas of the law, including business disputes, securities litigation, anti-trust disputes, and government contracts litigation. Mr. Eddy joined the management team for Eden Center last year as the Associate General Counsel at Capital Commercial Properties, Inc. When we spoke to him it was apparent that he is very passionate about running a Vietnamese shopping center.
E-Nexis: What do you like best about Eden Center and working as the management team?
- Mr Eddy: Eden Center offers many different services, goods and foods to our customers. In fact, there are about 140 different family-owned businesses at Eden. The center has restaurants, beauty salons, delis, cafes, jewelry shops, music stores, a grocery store and many other services. But my personal favorite thing at Eden Center is the diverse array of Vietnamese foods. There is no other place I have ever been, where I can visit more than 20 different stores that sell bubble tea or Banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich) in the same shopping center. As a member of the management team at Eden Center, I have the opportunity to meet and talk to a lot of different people, which I love. I particularly enjoy working with our customers, tenants and partnering with Vietnamese organizations with the goal of making Eden Center the most successful shopping center in Washington DC Metropolitan Area and a home for the Vietnamese-American community.
E-Nexis What Vietnamese foods do you like the best and which restaurant at Eden Center is your favorite.
- Mr. Eddy: I enjoy many types of Vietnamese food but my favorites are bun (Vietnamese vermicelli noodles), pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) ban xeo (Vietnamese fried pancakes), rice paper rolls, caramelized fish in clay pot and Vietnamese papaya salad. I cannot tell you which restaurant is my favorite because each Eden Center restaurant has its own specialty and provides foods with slightly different tastes and ingredients. When I visit Eden Center I go with my mood and pick a different restaurant and different food each time. Everything is Vietnamese, but also different from each other, and that is the beauty of Eden Center.
E-Nexis. What is the role of Eden Center in Vietnamese community?
- Mr. Eddy: Eden Center is the world famous economic, cultural and emotional center of the Vietnamese community in the Washington Metropolitan Area and beyond. Eden Center often has visitors from as far away as New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, the west coast of America and even Vietnam and the rest of the world. When people visit Eden Center, they often feel that they are in Vietnam. The management team wants Vietnamese people to feel that Eden Center is their home, and that is why we designed the center with features like the lion gate entrance and the clock tower. Eden Center also donates money to Vietnamese organizations, hosts charity events, gives space and time to Vietnamese student groups and give scholarship money for outstanding Vietnamese students. We have been embraced by the Vietnamese community and we feel it our obligation to live up to that trust and give back to the community at every opportunity.
E-Nexis: How do you manage and help tenants at Eden Center?
- Mr. Eddy: As Associate General Counsel at Eden Center, I work with Alan Frank, the Vice President and General Counsel for Eden Center, and make management decisions every day in many different areas. For example, we work with tenants to come up with the ways to market promote their businesses. One way that we do this through our website (www.Edencenter.com), that has detailed information about every store at Eden Center and also provides a community bulletin board for the entire Vietnamese community, not just about events at Eden Center.
E-Nexis How often do businesses change owners at Eden Center?
- Mr. Eddy: When Eden Center first began virtually all of our businesses were owned by first generation Vietnamese immigrants. Today we have a number of tenants that are second generation Vietnamese Americans but still many of our businesses have been at Eden for as many as ten 10 or 20 years! It can be hard to start a new business at Eden Center because there is a waiting list for many of our business locations and when vacancies do occur they are quickly grabbed-up by new businesses. One other way that new businesses start is when a successful businesses owner decides to sell their businesses to someone new. This happens because some tenants like the process of building a successful store and selling it then using the money to start another business and other times the tenant may just want to take time off for travel. The Eden Center management team sometimes allows our tenants to sell their businesses because new businesses and new tenants bring new enthusiasm and new products to Eden Center.
E-Nexis How has the management team improved Eden Center so far?
- Mr. Eddy: We are constantly looking for new ways to improve. Let’s use parking as an example. There are about one thousand parking spaces at Eden Center. This should be plenty of parking. But on a typical weekend, Eden Center is so popular that it is sometimes difficult to find a parking space in the front of the center. To improve this problem, we have taken two steps. The first step is to encourage our customers to park behind the center where there is usually plenty of close convenient parking, even when the center is very busy. Next, we are in the process of adding close to 100 new premium parking spaces. These new parking spaces will be directly in front of the new “Good Fortune” grocery store that is coming to Eden Center in 2013. These new parking spaces will help provide a good shopping experience at Eden Center and are just one small step we are taking to improve Eden Center. My personal vision for the future is for Eden Center to remain the home for Vietnamese American community for the next 100 years and beyond. To accomplish this goal we will constantly improve the center, continue to support our tenants and customers, and to continue to look for news way to support Vietnamese organizations and charities.
Epilogue At the end of the interview, Mr. Graham told us about the upcoming Moon festival at Eden Center, which is going to be a very fun, family friendly, and culturally diverse event. It takes place on October 6th, 2012 and features an Annual pageant “Miss Vietnam-DC”, games for children, Eden Idol Contest, and many other giveaways. At the event, visitors can also make a paper lantern and join the lantern parade. I have never been to a moon festival in the United States, but this year, I will go to Eden Center for sure. Thanks to Mr. Graham and the rest of the Eden Center management team, Eden Center is truly an iconic place, a landmark for the Vietnamese community and too many other customers who love Vietnamese culture.