Little Saigon celebrates 11th anniversary as hurt businesses emerge from pandemic

Local News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — One of Sacramento’s best-known business districts celebrated a milestone Wednesday. 

South Sacramento’s Little Saigon was officially named 11 years ago. 

The anniversary celebration was more like a pep rally, with a who’s who of current and former mayors, city council members and county supervisors. 

The 3-mile stretch of Stockton Boulevard became a thriving commercial center long before it was officially designated as Little Saigon.

Vietnamese immigrants settled there after the fall of Saigon in the mid-1970s, many starting from scratch. 

Mayor Darrell Steinberg was a council member for the district 25 years ago. 

“New immigrants came to this country with dreams and started businesses that remain till this day,” the mayor said. 

Celebrating an 11th anniversary might sound a bit odd, but they could not very well celebrate a 10-year anniversary in the middle of a pandemic. Not to mention, this year marks a kind of renewal for a business district that was hit hard by COVID-19.

“It was a very, very hard year,” said restaurant owner Nat Huan Tham.

Huan Tham operates one of the first restaurants to open in the district and barely survived a shutdown with take-out-only service. 

Layoffs affected the entire neighborhood. 

But there are signs of recovery everywhere as vaccines take hold and county COVID-19 restrictions are slowly lifted. There are even signs of expansion. 

“We survived, and I’m glad the community is doing well and better days are ahead,” Huan Tham told FOX40.

It’s aided by the fact that the city will invest in a research program in the district that will explore alternatives to gas cooking that will eventually be banned by the city’s new and controversial all-electric ordinance. 

“We’re going to invest real resources into developing the electric wok technology here on Stockton Boulevard,” Steinberg said.

Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, led the effort to name Little Saigon when he was on the city council and is still a believer. 

“It’s alive and kicking, and it’s had its ups and downs with COVID-19, but we’re here and we’re back,” McCarty said.

Community leaders in the district said they hope the strong cultural identity of Little Saigon will help make it a destination for diners and shoppers.

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