Owner of Van Son, Peter Pham is excited for the opportunity to share his family’s recipes with Calgarians at his new restaurant, Pho City, in China Town.
“I always wanted to open more, I know that our food, service, and quality is really good so I thought if I had the help I would want to open more,” Pham said.
“We always wanted to expand to different locations so we’re not too close to the other restaurants, so customers can come to us anywhere they go,” he said.
For Pham, opening the Pho City restaurant with his family was extremely important as his aunt opened the first Van Son restaurant in Calgary and mastered the recipes that he uses today.
“I partnered with my dad and sister. I wanted to allow everyone to succeed, as my aunt did the same with me, my dad and sister have no experience in restaurants, we wanted to do this together,” Pham said.
“My wife helps me run the Chestermere restaurant, which gave me more time to build another restaurant,” he said.
Pham is currently working at Pho City seven days a week during lunch, then at Van Son in Chestermere every night.
“I’m working two restaurants right now until I can get this restaurant up and running well and smoothly. Then I can relax a little bit more,” Pham said.
Due to COVID-19, Pham ran into many challenges opening Pho City, such as delays with completing renovations and obtaining the proper permits.
“Everything took longer. Finding a location, rent is a huge factor, during COVID-19 rent has gone down for a lot of people because businesses were shut down,” Pham said.
“It’s a hard time to open, but at the same time you can benefit from it, with cheaper rents,” he said.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, finding suppliers became extremely difficult.
“When the borders shut down it was harder to find the products I need from across the border, shipping increased, and there were a lot of products getting stuck at the borders,” Pham said.
“Because of Van Son, I already found different suppliers and different shops, so I knew where I needed to go,” he said.
Adding, “It was easier opening a second business, because with the first one I already figured out everything I needed to do, everywhere I needed to shop, and where I could find the products.”
When opening Pho City, Pham would shop to find the best pricing options to ensure it wasn’t too expensive for the customer.
“We wanted to keep our prices as low as we can, but as we do our profit margin gets smaller. We want to keep our food quality good and have large quantities,” Pham said.
“Other restaurants cut costs, we tried to keep our quality and quantity good so people will keep coming back to us,” he said.
Pho City has been open to the public for over a week, however, it’s been difficult.
“It’s been hard. Right now, most people work from home, households can only dine in together, that has affected both restaurants, no one is downtown right now, downtown has been very slow,” Pham said.
Despite the challenges as a result of COVID-19, Pham is excited to meet new customers and train new staffers.
“I’m excited because I get to meet new people, I love meeting new people, talking to new people, and knowing customers. It’s always something different every day I work,” Pham said.
“The Chestermere location has been running smoothly, and with the new location I have to put a lot more effort into providing everything I want for my vision of the future of Pho City,” he said.
When customers go to Pho City, they can expect the same recipes, quality, and quantity offered at Van Son.
“Customers can expect the best customer service I can give, the same amazing service we give in Chestermere, and a happy face,” Pham said.