Annie Bhan spent 42 years as a registered nurse before retiring two years ago. After working so long in such a demanding field one might think that Annie would now prefer to kick back and relax, but that’s just not Annie’s style.
Since retirement Annie has been busier than ever managing one of the three businesses in distinctive remodeled quarters on the northeast corner of Lincoln and Yosemite avenues in downtown Manteca she owns with her husband Vinnie. And she is loving every minute of it.
The decision to open their first business, Fashion Health Care Apparel came 20 years ago while Annie was still working as an RN at San Joaquin General.
“I was tired of having to travel to Stockton to buy my scrubs. Our town didn’t sell any so we decided to open up a store. I thought it would be something fun to do. It ended up being something a lot of people really needed and enjoyed,” she said.
Hiring good employees from the start, Annie was able to continue working her full-time R.N. schedule while still helping to build the new business on her days off. Over the years the business has grown to accommodate the apparel needs for those in the health care profession and has also added other unique items.
“Uniforms are changing and evolving. Many of the white uniforms nurses use to wear look totally different now. Nurses today wear bright colors, black and pewter which we offer. Our most popular items these days are Koi Lindsey pants and Dickey scrubs. We also starting selling antique collectibles and gowns mainly because I love finding treasures and sharing them with others,” Annie said.
A decade or so after Fashion Health Care Apparel opened its doors, Annie’s husband Vinnie, also a registered nurse with a specialty in anesthetist (CRNA) had the desire to open another business that couldn’t be found in town, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. As he was preparing to bring the sweet shop to the area, he decided to take a huge step of faith and also open an eatery, Iron Horse Deli at the same time. It was a lot to take on but the couples hope was that all three businesses would somehow flow well together and be of value to the community, in which they most certainly have.
Annie proudly admits that the Iron Horse Deli offers fantastic food such as burgers, Lockeford sausages, Fried Fish with coleslaw, an array of hot and cold sandwiches and more that keep customers coming back.
And when asked about the success of Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, all Annie could do was grin as she discussed the deep love customers have for the shops many Carmel apples covered with nuts and chocolate, let alone all the other goodies offered.
“We’ve been very fortunate to have great people to help us. Everyone who works for us puts their whole heart into it.” said Annie.
In addition to a great staff and great products, what really ties the Bhan’s three businesses together is the unique outdoor dining area complete with wrought iron tables and chairs located in the center of the three shops where customers can enjoy food, drinks and good conversation.
“People enjoy our dining area. We get many teachers and students from the high school nearby. Kids love to sit here and have their French fries.”
To add to the appeal, the Bhan’s are now talking about the possibility of increasing the courtyard experience by possibly having performers come and play music.
Despite the couple having their plates full with the three business, Annie admits that she still dreams of future adventures.
“I would love to have a riding stable and a boarding area for animals but I don’t know where I would put that nearby. That’s a pretty big adventure, maybe too much for right now, but who knows.”
While it remains to be seen if a riding stable and boarding house is in the future for the Bhan\s, one thing is certain, between their career as registered nurses, their choice of three family friendly businesses and even their outdoor dining courtyard which they invite people to visit, Vinnie and Annie Bhan love to serve people, particularly in this community, however they can.