Sapa Investment Group: Success as a “Heart-Centered” Business
Sitting down inside of Sapa Sushi Bar & Asian Grill in midtown, I couldn’t help but admire the cool tones and abstract light fixtures. Even the bottles behind the bar matched the color scheme, creating a fluid, put-together space. I sat across from Hoang Nguyen, the Managing Director and Co-founder of Sapa Investment Group (SIG), which was founded in 2020. SIG has founded and invested in multiple businesses dealing in hospitality and real estate, even opening their own pharmacy. As one of seven children of the family-owned and -operated business, Nguyen focuses mainly on public outreach.
The Nguyen family fled Vietnam after the war and moved from Northern California to the Salt Lake Valley in 1992. “It’s a very close, tight-knit family,” Nguyen says, “and the majority of us work within the company.” SIG are able to keep their business vertically integrated by employing over 500 people in SIG’s construction company, commercial real estate company and a nonprofit food equity enterprise called The Foundry Food Hub.
SIG’s early business ventures centered around hospitality, starting with restaurants including Purgatory Bar, Fillings & Emulsions bakery and Fat Fish. Beyond restaurants, Nguyen says her family wanted their businesses to focus on a “heart-centered community,” one where they could improve people’s lives.
“It’s a very close, tight-knit family, and the majority of us work within the company.”
The Nguyen family struggled for years before starting SIG and were grateful for the people who helped them make it through hard years. “How do we touch people in a meaningful way that helps improve each other? That part centers communities; it drives our direction of growth and whatever we decide to spend our time and energy on,” Nguyen says. She smiles and points out the window to a large building across the street, Dragonfly Wellness, Utah’s first medical cannabis pharmacy and one of SIG’s investment properties.
Sapa has another medical cannabis pharmacy in Price, which opened in 2022 to increase access in eastern Utah. “When we looked up Price, they had the highest opioid and meth epidemic back in 2018,” Nguyen says. SIG presented their research and proposed their pharmacy as a way to ameliorate opioid dependency. “They were more than willing to welcome us with open arms because we could show that medical cannabis is a much safer alternative than prescribing opioids.” Dragonfly donates monthly to the Last Prisoner Project to help work towards policy changes to fight for those who have been incarcerated for cannabis-related crimes.
Nguyen uses her position to advocate and help those in her community by serving on many boards throughout the state. She is chair of several boards, including the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee of ULI Utah, a nonprofit organization, as well as the Midtown Business District Board, which reaches 500 local businesses in the downtown Salt Lake area. Notably, Nguyen is a member of the advisory committee for Geraldine E. King Women’s Resource Center which sits cater-corner from Sapa Sushi. SIG made it a priority that the women and others in the community have a clean environment. “Every Thursday morning, we do what’s called a ‘rise and revive’ to help clean up the neighborhood,” Nguyen says. Residents of the resource center, as well as SIG employees, join together to clean up trash in the neighborhood.
“How do we touch people in a meaningful way that helps improve each other?”
“Serving on these boards is my way of being able to bring my own background and experiences … I’m trying to see how we can bring more diversity, equity and inclusion into everything,” Nguyen says. She hopes that she can make a difference for the next generations by using her time to push for issues that matter. With these efforts and their care for the community, SIG has been a force for change in Salt Lake, shaping the midtown scene with their leadership.
Always pushing for progress, the Nguyen family is excited to foster their current businesses while also working on new ways to expand their outreach for years to come. Learn more about Sapa Investment Group at sapainvestment.com.
Read more about the businesses Sapa Investment Group has started:
Four Courses of Dessert in SLC: Fillings and Emulsions
Purgatory or Bust
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