Terry and Jennifer Pham

“I think we really put a lot of effort into our hospitality and how we engage with our customers and how we engage with our team. It’s not just about clocking in and out or collecting a paycheck, but really, it’s about how we impact each other.”
-Terry Pham, Founder & CEO Fat Straws

As a child of Vietnamese immigrants, Terry Pham grew up around his grandmother and her ritual of drinking tea. He also spent countless hours helping his mother manage 7-Eleven stores. So when the dot-com bubble burst Terry’s IT career, it was only fitting he went back to his roots, ironically, to launch a new career with another bubble. Jennifer was born in South Korea and immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 10. She grew up in Los Angeles drinking boba since the early 1990’s. Terry and his wife Jennifer opened the first Fat Straws in 2002 and, despite a challenging economic climate, grew 15-20% each year. In 2007, Fat Straws launched its second store in north Dallas. Even the 2008 recession didn’t slow Fat Straws’ continued growth, due in part to Phams’ focus on quality control, outstanding service, community-based marketing and an emphasis on strong relationships–with customers and employees. Both Jennifer and Terry are committed to implementing principles of service and charity within the workplace.

Jennifer was born in South Korea and immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 10. Terry was born in the U.S., but is the son of immigrant parents. Jennifer grew up in Los Angeles, however, she feels that as the child of immigrants, as well as being an immigrant herself, she had a lot more responsibilities than her peers.

“One of the biggest challenges we faced was the language barrier,” Jennifer says. “We didn’t speak the language. My parents didn’t speak the language. We went through the whole ESL program and education system, which is great. But growing up with parents who don’t speak English means you kind of have to grow up faster. You’re taking care of reading their mail, translating it to them and helping them with everyday tasks.”

Terry’s father was an air force pilot. Terry was born in Arkansas and lived in a refugee camp. With his pilot experience, Terry’s father was able to work gigs flying cargo. One day, when his father was flying, the co-pilot had miscalculated the weight of the baggage on the plane, which affected the elevation of the plane. Everyone on the plane, including Terry’s father, was killed. Terry’s mother was left to raise him and his three siblings alone.

(excerpt from Local Profile magazine)