Hoa Sen Dao & Tan Hoang, owners of King Noodle House Pho Hoang in Edmonton
Edmonton's King Noodle House Pho Hoang is a beloved Vietnamese restaurant. Owners Hoa Sen Dao and Tan Hoang have been serving their popular Pho soup for over two decades to loyal locals. But when the pandemic closed their dining room, their sales dropped 70%. Could this old-school institution adapt without sacrificing the quality of their cuisine?
“It’s a very uncertain time for the restaurant industry right now. We have seen some great innovation and business model shifts from other local restaurants, and while our shift to accepting online orders and payments does not seem like a big change, it is quite a change for us.” - Hoa Sen Dao, co-owner of King Noodle House Pho Hoang.
When Hoa Sen Dao and Tan Hoang first arrived in Canada, they worked odd jobs to get by. They dreamed of starting a restaurant, and this dream finally came true in 1997. For the next two decades, their King Noodle House Pho Hoang thrived in Edmonton. And then the pandemic presented itself like a nightmare. It shut down the restaurant’s dine-in services, and this posed a unique problem because their Vietnamese noodle soup Pho is best enjoyed when plated. While the delivery app model is suitable for others, it isn’t suited for Vietnamese cuisine. The fresh garnishes wilt and the soups cool, so going fully online wasn’t an option. King Noodle House Pho Hoang had to find another solution.
They deferred to traditional take-out; food cooked per order but ordered with a modern twist. Sen Dao says, “The whole family, including our children who have their own careers, stepped up to help us during this time. Managing email orders, online payments, social media marketing and making sense of government updates affecting business owners.” Without any online presence, they had no way of communicating with customers. So their kids started running a social media account, letting them focus on running the business.
This couple’s restaurant has been an institution, but even with the adaptations their business’ future is uncertain. “We’re in an interesting position because we have been doing this for so long that these next few years likely would have been some of our last in business as we prepare to retire. Will this pandemic nudge long-standing restaurants to shutter sooner than they would have?” wonders Sen Dao.
For now, they’re just happy to be open and serving customers. They look forward to a bustling dining room but appreciate their take-out diners. “Please know that every time you choose to support a local business, you are making such a huge difference for small business owners. Every order means the world to us.”
To support Hoa Sen Dao & Tan Hoang, Edmontonians can visit the King Noodle House Pho Hoang website for dining room and takeout info.
Live elsewhere? Follow them on Instagram!
To celebrate this story, we’re happy to share that TELUS has purchased $500 worth of food from King Noodle House Pho Hoang and donated back to frontline healthcare workers at the Boyle McCauley Health Centre in Edmonton, a non-profit that provides primary health care for individuals and families with multiple systemic barriers to accessing health services.
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