Vibes: Modern Vietnamese Tapas & Cocktails in a Hip Locale

Chung Nguyen Thanh envisioned owning a stylish restaurant where people could relax and spend some time with family and friends—a place with good vibes. Knowing he wanted a location in a hip neighbourhood, Chung searched within the popular Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin, securing a space on a pleasant tree-laden street. In September of 2016, the aptly named Vibes opened its doors.

“The restaurant has a warm atmosphere. People can chill here: it’s a café, it’s a restaurant, and it’s a bar.”

Vibes’ welcoming ambiance is indeed striking. A long cushioned bench sits flush to the wall, along with tables and chairs for modular seating: tables can be separated or pushed together as needed, thus accommodating both large groups and couples. Tables are adorned with fresh flowers, and black accent walls add a touch of mystery.

It’s obvious that a lot of consideration was put into the interior décor. Chung himself took much enjoyment designing it.

“Doing everything my way is the main thing. When you have your own business, the interior and the style—everything—can be based on your own creativity.”

Poised to be an entrepreneur from the start, Chung completed his bachelor’s degree in business administration and gained experience with a few international internships. Inspired by his father, who owned a food stand, Chung decided he also wanted to work in cuisine. Specifically, he wanted to open a sit-down restaurant that was a modern take on traditional Vietnamese food—where his family could also work.

“I designed the menu with our chef. It’s mainly a tapas menu, which are small dishes you can share as a couple or as a larger group.”

Plates featuring artistic blue swirls and florals are graced by vivid green and orange veggies, crisp deep fried exteriors, and piles of glossy white noodles. Check out Vibes’ picture perfect dishes on their Instagram and Facebook pages.

Vibes also has an excellent cocktail menu, as evidenced by the well-stocked shelves of their in-house bar. Patrons can linger after dinner, order a drink, and watch as the restaurant transitions into a vibrant nightlife scene. In the summer, terrace seating is also an option.

Chung says the main challenges of owning a business is the sheer amount of work it takes. You have to be aware of every detail and manage a lot of things simultaneously. Additionally, everything takes longer than expected. His advice to new entrepreneurs?

“Be prepared. Really, because at the beginning, if you don’t have a business, you might think it’s really easy and it’s just a matter of opening it. But there are many processes you have to go through. Especially in Germany, you have to go through many steps, for example, to register your business. So, just be prepared and do your homework.”

Chung’s more immediate goal for the business is for it to get known as a top place to dine in Prenzlauer Berg. And, apart from its stylish décor and trendy tapas and cocktail menu, Chung further modernized his restaurant by accepting card payments.

“Many people asked to pay with their cards, and we looked for the best and most affordable card system. Of course, we’re a new restaurant so we try to consider costs. That’s why I chose SumUp... I think it’s easier for people to be able to pay by card, so that’s why they’re a bit more open to ordering something extra. I think that helps grow our business.”

Blog author

Christine Lariviere