AAPI Heritage Month with Cafe Cà Phê: Phon Wills

By Kelcie McKenney
Photos by Travis Young

For Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, we teamed up with Catcall magazine to highlight the AAPI team members who make Kansas City’s first Vietnamese coffee shop Cafe Cà Phê possible. Read the intro here, and stick around this week to hear their stories.

What’s your title at Cafe Cà Phê?

Photographer + Content Creator

Where is your family’s country of origin? 

Laos

What brought you and/or your family to Kansas City?

My parents originally started in Boston, but had friends in KC who convinced them to move to the area and start a life here.

When did you start working at Cafe Cà Phê and how did you get connected?


I was a customer, obsessed with Cafe Cà Phê, obvi. Jackie asked me to do a shoot one day, and we’ve been trucking right along since!


Cafe Cà Phê is all about the culture. How do you see your culture fitting in?

Honestly in sharing stories, although we are of different nationalities, culturally we all seem so similar. I think the more we can relate to each other, the more we feel like we “fit in.”

How has working at Cafe Cà Phê impacted your connection to the Kansas City AAPI community?

I have met so many incredible humans through Cafe Cà Phê.

Can you share something about your culture that maybe our readers wouldn’t know about?

Laos and Thailand are very similar.

What does AAPI Heritage Month mean to you?

To me, it just means and brings more awareness and education to our city and myself! There’s something new to learn every day.

What are three fun facts about you?

I am a foodie, I love the outdoors, and I just learned how to roller skate!

What’s your Cafe Cà Phê drink order?

Hella Good, Iced!

What’s your theme song?

Super Bass” by Nicki Minaj.

How can we support your community/culture in Kansas City?

Just by speaking about it, I’ve met Laos people whom I’ve never met through Cafe Cà Phê events!


Cafe Cà Phê’s brick and mortar is scheduled to open in mid-June. Learn more about their fundraising here.


Kelcie McKenney (she/her) is a writer, editor, and artist who is passionate about feminism, local activism, queer representation, and strengthening community. You can find Kelcie on Instagram with #kcdaddy, where she talks about her three-legged cat Luna, thrift finds, and ways to overthrow the patriarchy.


Travis Young
 (he/him) is a Kansas City based photographer with roots in photojournalism and visual storytelling. He enjoys using film cameras to help him process, celebrate, and challenge his understanding in topics of race, gender, status, and mental health. When not behind a camera, you can find him creating things in 3D, obsessing over your grandmother’s dope Volvo Wagon from the 80’s, or getting lost in some tedious cleaning activity because he is a relentless Virgo.

Photo studio courtesy of Travis Carroll.

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