Grand Opening of Pho Ha Noi in Palo Alto on Thursday

Grand Opening of Pho Ha Noi in Palo Alto on Thursday
By Nina Singh-Hudson - Published on May 22, 2023.

With a background in software engineering, Helen Nguyen and her husband Harry never expected to enter the restaurant business. However, on May 25, 2023, they're set to open their 4th location of their popular Bay Area Vietnamese restaurant chain, Pho Ha Noi, at 185 University Ave. in downtown Palo Alto. The spacious venue can seat nearly 200 people and is poised to elevate the brand's offerings, featuring innovative dishes and cocktails for the health-conscious Palo Alto clientele, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

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The couple's entry into the restaurant business was sparked by concern for their family when, in 2012, several newly immigrated relatives were struggling with low-paying jobs and labor exploitation in the restaurant industry. This led Helen and Harry to open a small eatery in San Jose's Vietnam Town shopping center in 2016 as a means to create a healthier workplace for their loved ones. Despite initial financial difficulties stemming from their commitment to high-quality ingredients, such as meat from Harris Ranch Beef Company, the restaurant experienced a swift boom in popularity.

Following the success of their first San Jose location, the couple expanded operations to Cupertino in 2019 and launched a second "elite" location featuring premium dishes like filet mignon and grilled lobster. In November 2022, it was announced that they would be taking over the former Wahlburgers location in Palo Alto, as mentioned in a Mercury News article, with the intent of opening by spring 2023. Now, mere months after that announcement, they're preparing to open their doors on May 25th, as stated by the San Francisco Chronicle.

While the Palo Alto location is expected to bring a more upscale experience to the Pho Ha Noi brand with a fresh menu and cocktails aimed at more health-conscious diners, the essence of the chain remains intact. Patrons can anticipate signature dishes like their beef and chicken pho, ranging from traditional bone marrow broth simmered for 24 hours in a custom vat to free-range chicken pho made with delicate care. The restaurant's commitment to fresh ingredients hasn't wavered, and Harry Nguyen's innovative approach to menu development continues to shine through in their dishes like bún chả and the wildly popular crispy, garlic-laden sticky rice served with roasted chicken.

@stepheatsntravels 🍜 𝙋𝙝𝙤 𝙃𝙖 𝙉𝙤𝙞 𝙋𝙖𝙡𝙤 𝘼𝙡𝙩𝙤 𝙜𝙧𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙤𝙥𝙚𝙣𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙤𝙣 𝙏𝙝𝙪𝙧𝙨𝙙𝙖𝙮, 𝙈𝙖𝙮 25! 🇻🇳 @phohanoisanjose is one of the most popular and well-known Vietnamese restaurants in the Bay Area, and they will open their doors to the public in bustling downtown Palo Alto on May 25! ♥ As your favorite Vietnamese food vlogger, I'm honored to showcase their amazing northern Vietnamese cuisine that you need to try at their new PA location. By the way, they'll be opening 2 more locations soon, more to come on that, hehe. Share this video with everyone you know and follow me for more food and world travel videos! Pho Ha Noi, Palo Alto 📍 185 University Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94301 #phohanoi #phohanoipaloalto #bayareafood #phohanoigrandopening #phohanoisanjose #paloalto #downtownpaloalto #bayareaeats #bayareafood #bayareafoodvlogger #reelsitfeelsit #foodreels #viralreels #phohanoiCupertino #vietnamesefood #bayareaVietfood #sanjoseVietfood #pho #paloaltofood #asianfood #newrestaurantsbayarea ♬ original sound - Stephanie Ngo

However, Pho Ha Noi's success isn't solely rooted in its delicious cuisine. The foundational mission of creating a healthier workplace for their employees remains at the core of Helen and Harry Nguyen's rapidly growing empire. Just last year, the chain introduced a 20% service charge to increase pay and offer health insurance for their workforce. Harry, who possesses a background in software engineering, has even designed custom machines to wash and cut vegetables, in an effort to reduce labor and improve working conditions for their staff members, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.

With this in mind, the couple sought advice on the merits of opening a location in Palo Alto. An advisor highlighted the global prestige associated with Silicon Valley, implying that their restaurant's name and success could grow even further if they managed to establish a presence there. In line with this pro-tip, the Palo Alto location is set to open just steps away from tech giants and prestigious universities that attract visitors from all over the world, offering a major boost to the brand's visibility.

But the Pho Ha Noi journey doesn't end at Palo Alto. Plans are already underway for new locations opening in Milpitas by the end of 2023 and in Fremont the following year.