You can't go wrong at Pho Viet's! From my experience, everything tasted as if my mom was cooking dinner behind the counter, fresh and just like home. That's because this restaurant all began with Qui Anh Tran, a refugee looking to bring a taste of Vietnamese cuisine to America.
Qui Anh Tran, the matriarch of the Tran family, spent close to a decade in a Thailand refugee camp before immigrating to Boston. Over time from her work at multiple restaurants in Boston's Chinatown, including now-closed New Dong Khanh, Qui's culinary knowledge grew and made her think about starting her own venture.
When Sugar Bowl, a Vietnamese restaurant at Super 88, shut its doors, Qui saw her opportunity. She was already old at that time, so she didn't open the restaurant herself, but got her children and friends to open it!
Pho Viet's has remained in family hands, passed down through successive generations of the Tran family. Qui's daughter and son-in-law, Dung and Hung Tran, owned and operated the Super 88 Pho Viet's for several years before their children, Kelly and Thanh, took ownership of the business.
Kelly and Thanh expanded Pho Viet's to two new locations to share their Vietnamese food and heritage with more Bostonians. First, in 2019, Kelly opened Pho Viet's II in Newton. Then in February 2021, Thanh and his wife, Jenn Tin, moved Pho Viet's from its original shared space in Super 88 to a new location a couple of blocks over on Commonwealth Avenue.
Jenn said, "....when we opened back in February, it was quiet, but you know we were thrilled with what we had. And we're thankful for everyone that came in. But this year, now that everyone's gotten vaccinated, it's a lot busier than last year, which is great. It's always nerve-wracking to open, so it was a very nerve-wracking opening during the pandemic, but we got through it. For the most part, knock on wood."
Jenn and Thanh kept their customers at the top of their minds when picking their location. As a result, they chose to open their newest location close to their original location because if not, their regulars would miss them.
"We've had customers where my husband will say, 'I knew them. Since this kid was little, and now they're like, two feet taller than us.' So he didn't want to stray too far from them too. So when we saw that this location was open, we knew it was perfect," says Jenn.
Since relocating, Jenn says that she'll see the same college students coming in three to five times a week. The regulars don't stop coming. "At first," she says, "... they're a little shy, but then when you know their order, you're like, 'Okay, I know what you want.'" Pho Viet’s relationships with its customers keep them coming back and have allowed Pho Viet’s to succeed in Boston's restaurant industry.
Jenn and Thanh's dedication to their customers comes from their extensive experience in the hospitality industry. Since he was a kid, Thanh has been in the restaurant business, working alongside his parents and grandparents at the original Pho Viet's. On the other hand, Jenn previously worked at hotels for many years. This combination of experiences creates a fantastic foundation for their first venture together.
The couple brings out the best of their creative minds in the entire experience with their newest location. While the menu hasn't changed since Qui designed it at the first Pho Viet's location, the couple has genuinely made this newest location their own. It's all spectacular, from the hand-painted murals to the Vietnamese straw hats to the Pho Viet's merchandise.
When designing the Pho Viet’s, they aimed to make it feel comfortable, clean, and modern but still homey. Jenn commented, "We wanted to design a space where people can come in wearing their pajamas if they have to, or they can come in after work, or they can go bring a date here. We wanted it to be a balance of anything where people don't feel judged about what they're doing or what they're wearing."
Trust me, Pho Viet's is the perfect place to pop over and grab a bite to eat or hang out with your friends. The comfort that comes from Pho Viet's comes from Jenn and Thanh’s kindness and their delicious bowls of food are truly one of a kind.
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