After a break for remodeling, a longtime East Dallas restaurant is back. Mai's Vietnamese, an old-time favorite that's been around for 35 years, will reopen on November 6, with its signature rolls and clay pots but a spanking new interior.
The new interior is the result of a comprehensive remodel, and was spurred after the property at 4812 Bryan St. was purchased by a new landlord. It was first acquired by Perry Guest, then sold to Blackwood Developments, which is developing the area including upgrading the restaurants. Jade Garden, the rather sad Chinese restaurant that was next door, closed in 2016.
But Mai's had enough of a following that it was deemed worth saving.
"They're making this a nicer neighborhood," says Hannah Huynh, Mai's co-owner. "They fixed the outside, so we redid the inside with a cosmetic makeover."
This part of East Dallas is undergoing a massive upheaval, with funky old houses being replaced with five-story apartment buildings and Uptown-style townhomes. Perry Guest CEO Grant Guest put in a good word for Mai's, urging Blackwood to keep the restaurant.
"I love Mai's, they're hip without being hip, and I don't want to go without those egg rolls," Guest says.
It was Hannah's aunt Mai who first opened the restaurant in 1982; she's now retired. When she stepped away in the '90s, Mai's had some rocky times with consistency, but righted itself and continues to draw a loyal following for its egg rolls and its selection of clay pots, filled with steaming jasmine rice, and topped with a variety of options such as spicy yellow curry with mixed vegetables and tofu.
The restaurant closed on October 12 and originally planned to re-open on October 26. But construction delays pushed the re-opening date back, Huynh says.
"Our construction is almost done today," she says. "We have to clean it up and set up our furniture. We were originally going to try to re-open on Saturday, but we're closed on Sunday, so we decided to give ourselves the extra day to make it right."
The space is now smaller inside, but they'll be opening a patio in the spring. Patios are hip.