LAVEEN, AZ — Opening a new restaurant is no small task. It becomes even more challenging when that opening takes place days, even weeks, before a global pandemic forces restaurant owners to close their dining rooms and quickly transition to takeout and delivery.
"Not the most ideal time," said Jenny Le (pronounced lay), who opened her Vietnamese restaurant, Pho Laveen, in March near 35th Avenue and Southern Avenue. "Definitely did not plan for this at all."
Despite the unexpected challenges, she said the reason she opened her restaurant remains the same: "Pho Laveen is a tribute to my mother who passed away," she said.
Le is the youngest of seven children. Her family moved from Vietnam to the United States years ago. Her father worked as a fisherman. She knows the value of hard work and food.
"There's an obligation in my roots of Vietnamese to share the history of this food," she said.
As the name of her restaurant suggests, she specializes in Pho, a traditional Vietnamese noodle dish, where people can build their own build. But, she also highlights dishes from other Asian countries, including Pad Thai, drunken noodles, Korean barbecue, and spicy kimchi.
"Vietnamese food isn't just about Pho, you know, it's about the hundreds of years of experience in making this food," she said.
No matter what country you're in or what life is like at the moment, food is constant.
"Everything is OK after eating a good meal with family," said Le, even friends who become family.
She opened the restaurant with her husband and a friend. "We've known each other for 15 years so we kind of know how we tick," she said.
While times are tough, Le is pushing forward, determined to keep her restaurant in business. She is not taking a salary and is using her savings to keep the restaurant open. Being open is a reminder that we're all in this together.
"Everything is going through the same things and I think just the new normal is going to be [that] we have to help each other out," she said.
IF YOU GO:
3424 W Southern Ave. Phoenix AZ 85041
We're Open, Arizona: We know this is a tough time for a lot of people in our community, including local restaurants and businesses. As local spots continue to serve takeout, look for ways to safely do business, and give back to our community, we want to share their stories. Visit abc15.com/open or email us at OpenInAZ@abc15.com.