Okemos’ new Vietnamese restaurant King Pho opens

OKEMOS – Eaton Rapids-based Thai Nguyen wants everyone to know about pho, the specialty Vietnamese broth dish that’s the staple of his new restaurant, King Pho.

“I want to introduce everyone to Pho,” he said.

And he’s on his way there, along with his co-owner and friend Phillip Nguyen of West Bloomfield. Okemos restaurant had a ribbon-cutting ceremony and soft opening on Friday and is now serving customers.

The restaurant is located in the former Kingston Kitchen Restaurant, featuring Jamaican cuisine at 4749 Central Park Drive, next to Thai Nguyen’s other store Diamond Nails & Spa. The restaurant is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 11:00 to 20:00.

On September 9, 2022, an inauguration ceremony was held for the new Vietnamese restaurant King Pho in Okemos.

Thai Nguyen said the restaurant will offer more Vietnamese dishes when he has more staff, but for now the community restaurant only serves pho. Pho is a Vietnamese soup dish consisting of broth, rice noodles, herbs and meat.

“We want to do well,” he says. “We don’t want to rush anything”

But the focus of the restaurant will always be pho and the staff prepare the broth fresh every day. Thai Nguyen said people could eat pho all day long without getting bored.

“Pho is very simple and it’s very easy to consume,” he said.

Phillip Nguyen said they wanted to introduce people to Vietnamese culture and food and hope people enjoy it.

Manager Caldin Phan stirs the pulp during the soft opening of King Pho in Okemos on September 9, 2022.

The restaurant offers take away and take away options. The restaurant has four employees, but the owners are still hiring. People interested in applying can go to the restaurant or call 517-272-2880.

The restaurant will hopefully open in the next two to three weeks, and the opening was a $130,000 investment that doesn’t cover labor costs, Thai Nguyen said.

He said he started planning to open the restaurant about two years ago, but until now he hasn’t had the staff to run it.

The space has been empty since Kingston Kitchen closed during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.

Amber Clark, director of neighborhoods and community economic development, said the new restaurant boosts the economy.

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The longer a room is empty, the more it can deteriorate. King Pho fills an empty space in the community and doesn’t take up any green space, she said.

“It’s the greatest joy of my day to welcome new businesses into the community,” she said during Friday’s opening ceremony.

She really appreciates another young company coming to the community, and Thai Nguyen already has experience running a company. If he runs it like his nail salon, it will be good work, she said.

She didn’t have time to try the food on Friday after the dedication ceremony, but her husband loves pho, “so I’ll be here later,” she said.

Contact Bryce Airgood at 517-267-0448 or bairgood@lsj.com. keep following her Twitter @bairgood123.

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