Originally from Vietnam, Vu Pham moved to Fort Myers nearly 50 years ago, running a Taekwondo school in Lehigh Acres as a fifth-degree black belt for 25 years. After retiring five years ago, Pham opened Presotea’s first Florida location in October 2022.
Pham’s newest business venture is making its way back to the home of his first business in Lehigh Acres. A groundbreaking ceremony for Varsity Crossing commercial plaza, 505 Gunnery Road N., took place last week.
“I wanted to put a fresh perspective on Lehigh,” Pham said. “I know Lehigh like the back of my hand, and I know [commercial] is needed. I’ve seen it grow, but the commercial hasn’t kept up with it.”
For many years, Lehigh has struggled to attract commercial development to its abundance of rooftops, but new projects seem to be forging ahead.
The process took just more than two years for Pham to finally break ground, working with Bonita Springs-based McGarvey Construction Co. to develop the 1-acre property.
The site will house an 8,000-square-foot retail shell, which will become a 5,500-square-foot salon studio and a 2,500-square-foot Mexican grocery store called Tienda El Quetzal. This will be the grocery store’s fifth location, joining other locations in Bonita Springs and Fort Myers that offer an assortment of Hispanic products. The salon studio will feature 29 individual rooms for a variety of professionals, including hairdressers, lash/brow artists, tattoo artists, barbers, nail artists and chiropractors. The vision is to build a network of salon studios committed to beauty and wellness professionals who want to own their own business, Pham said.
“At 20, I was my own boss and not a lot of people get to experience that,” he said. “They all work 9 to 5 for somebody else. Hopefully, people gravitate towards that and then they can realize their potential.”
Pham said he and his partner, Quy Phan, are excited for the opportunity the development will provide for the community and people in the beauty industry of Southwest Florida.
“Most barbers, hair stylists, nail techs, they work out of a chair or desk,” Pham said. “We’re going to have individual units inside of the building that is just for you. You don’t have a boss, you are the boss.”
Construction is expected to be completed by December 2023.