Vietnamese restaurant catered for successful fast-food

HOUSTON – The Hughie’s on West 18th Street is one of the many Native American Vietnamese restaurants around this city. But it could be linked to Queen Dairy.

For starters, she used to be Queen Dairy. The sign on the front still has the appearance of an ice-cream chain. On the menu, next to my banh and roaming beef, well-fried, chicken brined milk, Dairy Queen recipes.

The most striking similarity, though, is the restaurant drive window, which opened in March 2020 in response to the coronavirus lock.

Paul Pham, the owner of this Hughie and another few miles from it, hopes that one day, his restaurant will be as ubiquitous as the Dairy Queen. Next year, it will open a third location, and plans to expand to Texas and possibly pass.

In his vision, driving – a beautiful American innovation that combines fast food business with the national car culture – is also the car that could make the next Vietnamese meal to join the success story. He believes that the rise of Americans in Vietnamese cuisine makes it the best food for the next generation of restaurants.

In recent years, several Vietnamese restaurants with similar ideas have opened in Houston, including Oui Banh Mi, Saigon Hustle and Kim’s Pho & Grill. Outside of Texas, there is Only Vietnam in Santa Rosa, Calif .; Mi-Sant Banh Mi Co. of Brooklyn Park, Minn .; and To Me Vietnamese Sub in Calgary, Alberta.

All of these restaurants have a driveway, and the owners try to attract the scent to Vietnamese cuisine by enjoying its taste and the beauty of America.

Mr. Pham, who was born and raised in Houston, where about 150,000 Vietnamese Americans, one of the largest Vietnamese in the United States, said: “We are going to turn to the Chick-fil-A concept. “They are the forefathers of this business, right?”

For him, that also means using technology to promote customer service, opening up to different public areas and closing on Sundays, as Chick-fil-A does-practice, he said, which is not uncommon. in the middle of an old Vietnamese restaurant in Houston.

“Our idea is not to live in an old Asian school,” he said. His family opened the first Hughie in 2013.

Americans describe their growth as Vietnamese reaching 2.1 million by 2020. Many North American cities, including Philadelphia, Washington and San Jose, Calif., Are experiencing an increase in the number of new Vietnamese restaurants.

But by embracing the driving habits and other practices of fast-food companies, chefs expect to reach a larger audience than their fellow Vietnamese Americans.

“We’re trying to sit back and forth on the Panda Express platform,” said Cassie Ghaffar, owner of Saigon Hustle, which he opened last February in the Oak Forest area of ​​Houston, along with his partner, Sandy Nguyen.

The Saigon Hustle – which serves banh mi, bun (vermicelli bowls) and com (rice bowls) – is an American car from the 1950s, with large window pane decorated with images of dragon fruit, as well as an area where cars can be elevated. . Saigon Hustle has only one location, but its founders say it is on track to raise $ 1.8 million this year. They plan to expand the country within two to three years.

For many non-Vietnamese eaters, traveling to Chinatown for Vietnamese food can be a challenge, as the menu may not be in English, where an increasing number of Vietnamese restaurants are available can be expensive, says Ms. Ghaffar, 40 said.

He said: “This car country is not very dangerous. It gives many people a chance to try Vietnamese food.”

The dish, which appeared in the mid-20th century and grew up in the 1970s, has become a staple for traditional American cuisine such as hamburgers and French fries. American fast food restaurants in Mexico, such as Taco Bell and Taco Cabana, have welcomed it.

The car gained new life during the onset of the epidemic, when several restaurants adopted a way to prevent socialization.

Kenny To and Hien Nguyen opened my Vietnamese Sub in October 2020 in Calgary. But the epidemic is exacerbated by the introduction of Canadian fast food chain Tim Hortons.

“Every morning, I would drink coffee in Tim Hortons’ car. I’m so good for my daily life,” said Mr. To, 60, “I was wondering, why not take a submarine? Did the Vietnamese cross? ”

Vietnamese food like banh mi and water scrolls is a portable and easy to pack, Mr. But because she has a special pain in her banh mi, making each part so thin and even baking, it is difficult to make it as fast as food. others are as fast as burgers and fries.

He said, “You have to cook the sub, and then cook it well with the meat,” he said. Sometimes customers will have to wait as long as 30 minutes.

Mr. Pham, of Hughie’s, said the country’s biggest barrier to expansion for restaurants like his was just a few things. Foods like the Golden Mountain Seasoning Sauce, which he uses in marinades, can be hard to find in a region without large American populations.

But at least one Vietnamese restaurant has already discovered how to grow in the country: Lee Sandwiches, started in San Jose in 1983 by Ba Le and Hanh Nguyen. Today the chain has 62 locations in eight states, including California, Nevada, Oklahoma and Texas. Many have a path-path.

The expansion of the restaurant, which began in 2001, came to an end. Jimmy Le, vice president of Lee and grandson of the founders, said: “Back then, we were more careful. The company chose only the region with the largest number of Vietnamese Americans.

Although Lee has opened a restaurant in a multicultural area, half of its location is still in the largest Asian-American area, Mr. Le, 40 said.

He said he was excited to see all the new Vietnamese bus lanes. But he is not trying to turn Lee into an American fast food chain. “We don’t want to change so much, or change at all,” he said. “People know Sandwich Lee, and they know what to expect.”

It’s difficult for Mai Nguyen, 58, another long-time Vietnamese tourist, to be excited about these new restaurants. He has been running Mai’s beloved Vietnamese restaurant, in Houston, since 1990; her parents opened the place in 1978.

“What I’m seeing is a generation now, their kind of making the restaurant look great and modern,” he said. “But I don’t see that the food is real.”

But the truth is different for these visitors, many of whom grew up outside of Vietnam.

In Mi-Sant, in the Minneapolis area, it means serving not only the traditional banh mi but also croissants – a specialty of its owner, Quoc Le, 37, whose father trained his bakery in France – by driving. formerly KFC.

“This is part of our identity,” said Linh Nguyen, another owner, along with his three sisters and sister. “Growing up, seeing the highway was not our norm.”

He wants Mi-Sant, which opened in 2018 and has another location in the region, to emulate a fast-food restaurant like Shake Shack. But he acknowledged that reaching out to as many audiences as possible could separate his clients from Vietnamese.

He says: “I do not have all the Vietnamese-speaking staff to speak to them. “There is no Vietnamese word on the menu, so they can not read it, and our price is higher” than that of many Vietnamese restaurants in the region.

But some diners are still unfamiliar with throwing banh mi from the car. Says Nguyen, 33, “We get people to just come and order burgers and taco, and it ‘s really fun.” I’ll be like, ‘We don’t do it here.’

Maka Mr. Pham, moving Hughie’s to an American fast-food restaurant is not only a way to attract customers, but also a reflection of his upbringing in Houston.

“The food menu, and having the two different worlds combined, is very, very beautiful,” he said.

To do it any other way, he added, would feel untrue.

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