by Jessie McKenna
This article first appeared as a blog post for Beacon Business Alliance (BBA).
For 30 years, an unassuming little bakery on Beacon Ave just south of Columbian Way has quietly churned out baked goods for Beacon Hill and beyond. Eight years ago, Nga Do (“Nn-yah Doh”) bought Mimi’s Bakery and Floral and started living her dream as a culinary queen and florist extraordinaire — and if you have a large event to pull off, she’s got you covered there too.
Mimi’s offers numerous packages for weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, and more including all your food, tablecloths, chair covers, place settings, flowers and other decorations, and of course, your cakes. But wait, there’s more!
Sandwiches, smoothies, and milk tea, oh my!
Mimi’s recently added a full menu of Vietnamese baguette-style bánh mì and BBQ pork sandwiches (loaded with ripe veggies), fresh rolls, salads, and more to their offerings. Get it to go or get it catered. They also now serve blended ice in flavors like avocado, taro, mango, strawberry, and strawberry banana. Another menu addition is milk tea — or bubble tea — a blend of sweetened taro, green, oolong, jasmine, or maja tea blended with milk swimming with slippery tapioca balls that produce the most satisfying burst when you chomp on them. And in addition to cakes made to order, Mimi’s makes flan and Vietnamese yogurt, and they carry some pastries sourced from the neighborhood.
One very hardworking mom
Mimi’s — well, Nga really — does it all. A mother of three nearly-grown children, Nga works six days a week (down from seven!). “My kids say, ‘Mom, you’re a work-a-holic!’” says Nga, laughing. They recently convinced her to close one day a week to give herself a break, so Mimi’s closes up on Wednesdays now and reopens in full swing on Thursdays when Nga arrives bright and early to start cooking and baking fresh goods for the day (she doesn’t pre-make anything).
Nga’s children have been helping her at the shop since they were kids, when she first took over the bakery. They said, “Mom, I want to do it!” says Nga. “So now they do! I’m lucky.” Her kids still help today when she does larger events on the weekends, like weddings. They all have school during the week (high school and college). Her dad and sister can be found in the shop helping out on the weekends too, so Mimi’s is truly a family affair with Nga at the helm.
Nga is Chinese and Vietnamese. She grew up in Vietnam, where she says the working days were long. “In my country I worked 15 or 16 hours a day since I was 10 years old,” she says. So when people ask her if she feels like she works too much or ask her if she’s tired, she says, no — she loves to work! And this? This is easy compared to her hard-working younger days in Vietnam. She feels lucky to be doing something she’s passionate about and thoroughly enjoys. She says this feels easy compared to that. She only recently went to closing on Wednesdays so she could spend time with her family.
“I love to serve the people,” says Nga, and she aims to make it right every time. “That’s why I try to make things the best that I can … I love to see people happy,” Nga notes with a smile.
Thursday through Tuesday you can find Nga, her cakes, dozens of orchids and other lovely plants, and fat binders full of pictures of floral arrangements Nga has created over the years for her clients. Of the flower she says — “When I arrange them I feel so happy, I can see them every day.”
Nga does most of the work herself. Of her work ethic and intense schedule and of hard work in and seemingly insurmountable tasks in general, she says, “Some people say, ‘That’s too hard.’ I say, have you tried yet?”
Speaking of trying and hard work, Nga is always looking for people who are serious about making a career in baking, cake decorating, cooking, catering, etc. She wants to find staff who are committed and have a good work ethic. She will train, but some cake-making/decorating experience is preferred.
Grab a bánh mì and a milk tea or pastry and be sure to peruse the impressive binders full of flowers and party decorations at Mimi’s Bakery and Floral (4809 Beacon Ave Seattle, WA 98108) Thurs–Sat, 9 a.m.–7 p.m. and Sun–Tues, 9 a.m.–6 p.m.