Can Pho & Baguette survive?

The outside of Pho & Baguette in Varsity Plaza on West Tennessee Street. Photo courtesy: Zoe Wells

A slow start to a new Vietnamese restaurant in Tallahassee calls into question if marketing determines the success of a new business.

Pho & Baguette opened on Nov.7 in Varsity Plaza on West Tennessee Street. It is a new Vietnamese restaurant specializing in pho and the traditional Vietnamese sandwich Bahn Mi.

The inside of the restaurant looks modern, with comfy benches and tables where customers can eat. However, there were only two young students in there eating during the height of lunch hour.

The restaurant’s menu seems like any other Vietnamese restaurant’s regular dishes. The only downside is the limited Pho choices on the menu.

According to their website, Pho & Baguette serves chicken and vegetable pho, unlike other local Vietnamese restaurants that offer a variety of Pho, like pork and seafood.

When asking the front manager, Andy Bui, why he chose not to serve beef pho, he says his brother-in-law, the business owner, planned to serve only two types of pho.

“When we tried other Vietnamese restaurants in town, their pho did not taste authentic,” Bui said. “By trying to Americanize our cultural dishes and offer more variety, I think they lost the traditional components in their broth.”

The restaurant’s Chicken Pho is different from other restaurants in Tallahassee. Pho & Baguette uses thicker rice noodles with fewer toppings in their pho. However, their chicken broth is rich in flavor and has multiple flavor profiles.

Although most people visit a Vietnamese restaurant to taste some excellent hot pho, Pho and Baguette’s star dish is their Pork Bahn Mi. The restaurant’s spin on this delicious sandwich is something most customers should go back for.

Their specialty drinks of fruit teas, boba, and Vietnamese coffee would also bring any thirsty college student in for a taste.

However, the question arises: Why is the place almost empty during what some would say is a lunch rush?

EuRiah Culver, a student employee at the restaurant, says that he loves working there but would love to see more people come in.

“My bosses are very easy to work with, and I love this job,” said Culver. “But I think more marketing would give this place the business it needs.”

When looking at other spots in Varsity Plaza, other restaurants are filled with student customers.

Boru Boru, the ramen restaurant across the plaza from Pho & Baguette, has a heavy social media following, with 1,595 followers on Instagram. While Pho and Baguette has only eight followers.

Marketing can take a significant toll on a restaurant in this college town. A restaurant like Pho and Baguette has decent food, but the number of customers eating there is nothing spectacular.

“We hope we can get more students in,” Bui said. “When they need a place to eat and study, we can only hope they choose us.”