Danny from Pho House

By Carla Fischer and Jelynne Go

“UNSW looks after us, and then we look on behalf of UNSW after all the students... Our food is here for everyone who needs a good lunch to study hard and be what they want to be... A lot of people who’ve been successful tell me it is because of our food."

Danny is from Biên Hòa, Vietnam. He says he takes his business skills from his father who was a successful businessman building trucks and motors with spare parts from helicopters. During the Vietnam War, in search for a better life, he and his family took a two-week boat journey from Vietnam to Malaysia and arrived in Melbourne in 1978. Among his many startups, at the age of 17 he began selling leftover products from garment outlets like sunglasses. He later moved to Sydney, to follow a better, faster life. As a baker he met his wife at the age of 28, and got married 4 years later. He ran a business in Sydney supplying packaging to a few food stores at UNSW. 

In 2001, Danny and his wife along with help from UNSW began Phở House. His paradise, the Pavillion was home to Union; a canteen, but due to lack of success, Phở House opened in its place with guaranteed freshness and unique food. It has since become students' favourite place for affordable and warm food, and for a place to relax. Today at 53, Danny wakes up every day at 5 am and buys fresh produce to open his shop at 9 am and along with his staff whom he considers his second family.

Danny on UNSW

"The University helps us a lot.. Yeah, they love us. They care about us because we have been taking care of students... We have a lot of visitors that come from outside, that bring their friend in for eating, husband and wife, kids... We have had customers coming from Hunter Valley and Wollongong. A lot of students say it is good Phở. We have students who studied here when they were here at university, and they come back when they are professionals and then they come back and think back to the time when they were in university"

I'm happier when my customer is happier - customer happy, we’re happy. That is my goal

"From my point of view, working hard for us is because we have been around a lot... We must know what our target is and then from there, if you love the business it will slowly grow... But if you hate your business it does not grow... I am in business because I want to follow in my father's footsteps... We improve everyday, positive every moment; that is the only way to success… My first business I had a store in Victoria market, working 3 times a week. Selling all the garments and sunglasses from manufacturers from garment outlets - leftover products... I come up to Sydney because I want to have a better, tougher life. 

Sydney is faster. We come here with the whole family, with 8 people in the family. We boat from Vietnam to Malaysia, from Malaysia to here in two weeks... But it's rough time. Vietnam has changed now... it is a good place for people to visit... to see different parts of the world."

We needed to look for another, better life... that is why we're here.

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