Pho Café welcomes you to their table

By Masaki Sugimoto

When John Rhee, a senior in LAS, walks into Pho Cafe, there is a sense of comfort and familiarity that is felt when walking up to the register to order his food.

“My favorite part about going to pho café is the welcoming atmosphere by the owner and staff. It is very rare nowadays to come across such kind people that genuinely care about the quality of their food and service. Sometimes I go into their establishment just to say hello and exchange words,” Rhee said.

The owners of Pho Café, Souphaphone Soutchay and Seng Soutchay, and their staff have been bringing not only authentic Thai food to the University campus, but amazing customer service, which is not limited to remembering your face. They want to get to know you as a person and they want you to have the best experience while you are visiting their restaurant.

“We get a lot of regular customers who like are food and that means a lot to us. Our goal is to provide the best customer service to our customers. We have met a lot of people that end up becoming our friends,” said Souphaphone.

Some of their greatest joys of owning their restaurant are getting to know a large diversity of people from students, faculty, staff, and the locals of the Champaign-Urbana area.

The owners want to get to know each customer on a personal level and develop bonds to better serve and connect with them. “I think getting to know someone in a more personal way is the best way we can know and have an idea of what kind of customers we have,”

Souphaphone said, “If you get more interpersonal you can provide more of a service to them because you know what they like and what they don’t like and I would feel more comfortable asking what they enjoy here and what they do not like so that way we know what to change and how to better serve our customers.”

The owners of Pho Café approach their restaurant business as an extension to their home. It is not just a way of making a living, but to bring customers into an area of comfort.

“To me, I enjoy when people come visit us and especially when they are enjoying our food. I think that is the best part and I also like the service part of this job because I get to take care of the people who come here. I think I want our service to stand out the most along with providing good food. When people come here, it is like they are coming to my house. I want to make sure I take care of them. Do my best. Make sure they’re comfortable and have enough to eat,” said Seng.

The synchronization of the teamwork between the owners, Seng and Souphaphone, can be one of the major reasons why their business has grown since their opening back in Dec. 2015. “Seng and I always have business in mind. We always influence each other by pushing each other. We gather ideas together and talk about it like what is good and what is not good and that motivates us to work well together,” said Souphaphone.

A familiar face on staff, Lorn Chan said, “It is like family here. I have known them for

ten years. I enjoy just getting up in the morning and coming work because I feel

comfortable with them.”

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