Toan To never imagined he would open his Vietnamese restaurant—To Phó at 650 San Benito Street Ste. 110 in Hollister—in the middle of a pandemic.
“The process started back in January and we finalized at the end of February,” To said. “We are all ready to open and then suddenly it’s ‘shelter-in-place.’”
Undeterred, To, 36, and his wife Onah went ahead and had their grand opening on March 23. The first day was hectic, but the staff held together. It’s not how the restaurant planned to open, but To said it’s helped them adapt to the environment and that the extra time has helped out.
“Everything is improving every day, and we have a lot of returning customers already who gave us positive feedback on the foods they like. For us, it is all about the learning right now.”
The restaurant serves traditional Vietnamese food focusing on soup and rice dishes, including phó—a popular soup consisting of rice noodles in broth seasoned with herbs that can be eaten as served or with grilled meat.
Onah, 36, is the chef in the family. To said she gained 10 years of experience working at her uncle’s restaurant in Canada.
“She loves to cook Vietnamese food, that’s her specialty,” To said. “We saw this as a good opportunity to provide to the community a chance to try something new.”
In early April, To Phó will start including samples of various menu items with every order.
“A lot of customers in Hollister haven’t tasted some of our dishes yet so we are trying to introduce more items to the community for them to try and maybe order,” To said.
The owner’s favorite dish is lemongrass rice, which can be cooked with shrimp, beef or pork. Another favorite is the caramel pork, a salty dish that’s been cooked in a sweet sauce and served with rice.
“Our focus is customer service, our goal is to provide a unique taste, a different taste to our customers in Hollister,” To said. “This is a new type of food for them and hopefully our customers will like it.”
To Phó is doing to-go orders only during their daily hours from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Call (831) 313-1900.
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