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Pho24 opens first of three restaurants this year

Plans are to expand eventually to 100 branches

WHEN a restaurant says their slogan is “Cooked slow and served fast,” one shouldn’t  wonder about the speed of their expansion. Pho24, another one of Jollibee Foods Corp.’s foreign conquests — these would include The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and Tim Ho Wan, plus the Philippine franchises for Burger King and Panda Express — is slated to open 100 stores, with three immediately opening this year. The first of the three branches (and the second one in the country so far) opened earlier this week in Jollibee Tower in Ortigas Center. Jollibee acquired 60% ownership in the SuperFoods Group that owns the Highlands Coffee and Pho24 brands.

“This signals our expansion, aligned with our mission to share the joy of eating authentically delicious, good value for money pho to everyone, everywhere,” said Ned Bandojo, Business Development Head for Pho24, in a webinar on Jan. 27.

The restaurant laid down its roots in Vietnam in 2003, taking its name from the 24 ingredients that go into the noodle soup, sometimes considered as Vietnam’s national dish. According to Julius dela Cruz, Marketing Head for Pho24, their broth, the backbone of the dish, is made from beef shin bones simmered for eight hours. “We really take pride in our slogan, which is cooked slow and served fast,” he said.

They launched Pho24 kits late last year, to cover demand during the delivery-crazed pandemic. BusinessWorld got a taste and found that the broth had unexpected depth and nuance. “With COVID-19 happening, it actually became the springboard for us to launch our newest product (the Pho 24 kits),” said Mr. Dela Cruz.

The pho meal kit, priced at P540 for delivery, contains ingredients for two servings of the chain’s Beef Fillet Pho. It also has a Fried Spring Rolls pack containing 12 rolls and Vietnamese dipping sauce, priced at P360 for delivery transactions. The meal kits can be purchased via delivery through Facebook Online ordering and food delivery apps GrabFood, Foodpanda, and LalaFood. The restaurant’ pho menu includes its flagship PHO24 beef fillet and PHO24 chicken pho; as well as its other noodle variants, beef brisket, beef meatballs, and 3 Types of Beef. There are also non-pho options like Saigon Fried Chicken, Shaking Beef and Savory Pork Chop rice meal options and Vermicelli Spring Rolls. For dessert there are Banh flan, taro in coconut cream, and yogurt.

Asked about embarking on an expansion during a period of uncertainty, Mr. Bandojo said, “Things have been very hard — of course, we all know that. No one was spared from this one. With Pho24, we’re very confident about this product and we are very, very sure that once people get to experience that ‘un-pho-gettable’ experience with [us], you will surely look for more.”

So much so, in fact, that Mr. Bandojo got a seal of approval from Pho24’s home country; noting the numbers of Vietnamese customers in their original branch in Double Dragon Plaza in Pasay City. “To us, if you see Vietnamese and Chinese people dining at Pho24, that is the ultimate seal of authenticity.” — Joseph L. Garcia

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