Updated 05-26-19. I was discussing a new pho restaurant concept with an entrepreneur the other day. Our discussion turned to the topic of whether or not there are pho secrets out there that can be found and bought.

Here's the thing, most people who want to open pho restaurants fall into one of 2 groups.

Pho secrets for saleThe first group consists of those who know how to make pho at home (or think they know how) and want to try their hands at selling pho in large volume to the public.

The other group consists of those who've never cooked much, and certainly never made pho before, and are searching for secrets to make it big and fast.

The wannabe owner told me a story about a pho cook from another restaurant trying to sell him the secrets of making pho. Here's the proposition which I'll paraphrase:

Hire me and I'll make pho for your new restaurant. It will be great pho and you won't have to worry about anything. I'll take care of all the pho making for you. You just worry about collecting money from your pho sales. And by the way, I will retain all my secrets of making pho and don't have to tell you how I make it.

"WTF!" That's what many experienced owners would say when hearing this, but surprisingly there are many others who will go for it. I've seen it.

If one has to ask what's wrong with this scenario, then he/she either still needs to learn a lot about restaurant business, or maybe shouldn't be in the restaurant business at all.

I shared with the entrepreneur a few tips and perspectives to help him establish a better foothold before proceeding. Here are a few.

  • As a pho restaurant owner, he should take control of all aspects of his business. This includes especially what's going on in the kitchen, who does what, when and how. Beside the fact that kitchen is the place where restaurants lose the most money, it's also the place where food will come out to be served to paying customers. So the premise of allowing one of your employees to do whatever he wants in the kitchen without your knowledge and approval just doesn't make any sense at all.
  • Many think making pho is too hard, too complex, and they don't want to spend the time to learn. To the uninitiated, making pho seems like a daunting task. But with proper training and personal will, anyone can learn to make great pho. Believe me, if you can survive the process dealing with health and building departments to open a pho restaurant that meet all federal and local regulations, then learning to make pho should be a walk in the park. Regardless of the size of a pho restaurant, single- or multi-unit, there are many ways to make consistent, great tasting pho.
  • There is no quick-fix solution in anything, and certainly not in making pho and running a pho restaurant. If an owner really cares about creating great pho and running a successful pho restaurant, then he can and should spend the time to learn to make pho himself, then learn how to properly run a restaurant, put a system in place, and train trusted employees to work that system.

So there you have it. If you aspire to open your own pho restaurant, then look for a good, solid solution; one that gives you the knowledge and ability to make decision and operate for the long term.

Don't go for the quick and easy fixes.

And definitely don't let anyone tell you they'll make pho for you but they retain their "secrets".

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