For the second time in three months, Nhung Nguyen went before the Boston Licensing Board for permission to reopen her VN Express Cafe at 1616 Dot. Ave.
This time, however, she appeared without her husband, Khanh, who was the reason the board rejected her application to serve food in August, citing both illegal gambling at the Chinese restaurant that used to be there - when Khanh Nguyen worked there - and his inability to completely own up to a criminal past that included a conviction on gun charges in the early 1990s.
Nhung Nguyen told the board this morning her husband no longer has anything to do with her planned restaurant and that he's now working in construction.
City officials, however, expressed skepticism and again opposed the application, at least until after Nhung Nguyen appears before the St. Mark's Neighborhood Association to put the neighborhood at ease.
City Councilors Frank Baker and Charles Yancey both opposed the license, with an aide to Yancey saying the application seemed a bit of "bait and switch." The St. Mark's Neighborhood Assocation asked the board to defer any action until after Nguyen could meet with it.
Capt. Richard Sexton of District C-11 told the board that while he does not want to paint Nhung Nguyen with "a broad brush," he said the fact that her husband has had law-enforcement issues means things "are too close for comfort." He said he would be especially concerned about the potential return of gambling to the location. "It's very important we don't have any of that going on," he said.
The licensing board decides Thursday whether to grant Nguyen a license, reject her request or defer it until after hearing from the neighborhood association.