The idea of running her own business first occurred to Thy Lu when she was a little girl in her native Vietnam. Surrounded by the aromas and tastes of a culture where food is so revered, she dreamed about what she might do to realize her ambition.
Lu did not know then that her future would be to immigrate to the U.S., but she eventually did so, to earn a marketing degree at a California university while – all the while – still nurturing entrepreneurial dreams
Now the married mother of three (twin girls and a boy) has fully realized her aim, having opened the warm and inviting Artisan 360 café and dessert destination in Chinatown’s Diho Square. There, aromas of Lu’s homeland – from freshly brewed teas and rich Vietnamese coffees to finely fashioned cakes and savory mousses — greet a growing number of visitors.
“My vision for (Artisan 360) came from living in Houston and not really finding anywhere I could go to relax and enjoy a cup of tea with my friends,” she explained. “I created the café to fulfill that need.”
Judging by the foot traffic, a lot of other folks share the same wish. Customers on a recent weekend said they enjoyed the café’s relaxing atmosphere and décor that includes Windsor chairs and tables, hanging rattan lampshades and brick and wood-paneled walls.
But it’s the mousses and cakes that really draw folks. Lu especially loves creating items in the shape of a circle, evidenced by the mouth-watering delicacies on display.
There’s the exotic mango with sublime pineapple filling, a Black Forest chocolate with cherry filling, the vanilla with mixed berries and the matcha with strawberry filling, among others. Each is presented with delicate fruit or flower topping and is just the right size for an individual serving at a party.
She chose the shop’s name because of the image she holds of an artisan: a skilled craftsman who makes items with his or her hands “to create things of great beauty.” The ‘360’ (degrees) in the name represents a circle.
A circle has no beginning or end or pointed parts to stand out from the rest and distract us,” she explained. “There’s a sense of perfection, purity, and completeness that makes circles appeal to me.”
New items are introduced weekly to keep each visit fresh. Flavored drinks and small cakes/mousses are in the $5 to $7 range.
The Artisan 360
9188 Bellaire Blvd Ste. X
Open 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. weekdays (closed on Tuesdays), Friday-Saturday until 9 p.m.