Here"¦ and gone

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The historic Givral coffee shop at the Vincom Center A in downtown Ho Chi Minh City has shut down nine months after reopening Photo: Tuan Anh SYM 
The Givral Café, long considered a symbol of the old Saigon, has closed just nine months after reopening.

The original historic bakery and café was demolished along with the rest of the old Eden building in April 2010 by Vingroup to make way for Vincom Center A a complex of shopping malls and luxurious hotels at the corner of Dong Khoi and Le Loi streets in downtown Ho Chi Minh City.

The new Givral Café received a warm welcome from HCMC old-timers when it reopened on October 10 of last year on the street level of the Vincom Center.

Its well-wishers had hoped it would help revive the soul of old Saigon.

The Thoi bao Kinh te Sai Gon (Saigon Economic Times) cited a source as saying the historic café was failing to attract customers and could not afford the expensive rental space.

The Saigon Givral Joint Stock Company says it plans to open new Givral coffee shops at four other locations.

Givral Café was established by Alain Poitier - a French national who spent eight months transforming a drugstore into Saigon's first French-style bakery in late 1950.

The café, restaurant and patisserie that served baguettes, pastries and great-smelling coffee, soon became popular among both locals and tourists.

During the wars against the French and the US, Givral became a meeting place for international war correspondents and other celebrities.


Those known to have frequented the café include English photojournalist Tim Page; two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Horst Faas; renowned English author Graham Greene; legendary Vietnamese spy Pham Xuan An; and singer-songwriter Trinh Cong Son, who was dubbed the Vietnamese Bob Dylan.

After the Vietnam War ended in 1975, Givral experienced ups and downs as it repeatedly switched owners.

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