The Savory Fund selected Vietnamese restaurant Saigon Hustle in Houston, Texas as the winner of its Million Dollar Restaurant Launch competition with a US$1 million venture capital investment, according to lifestyle news site CultureMap.
The private equity firm, owned by restaurant operators, picked the Vietnamese restaurant from a pool of more than 240 applicants.
In addition to the money, the investment brings marketing support and access to tools that allow a restaurant to assess its financial performance.
First launched as a ghost kitchen in 2020, Saigon Hustle opened a dedicated bricks-and-mortar restaurant in February.
The fast casual, drive-thru concept offers both well-executed takes on classic Vietnamese fare as well as creative interpretations, such as honey-glazed salmon rolls or a twist on the classic ‘bánh xèo’ -- a flour and turmeric crepe filled with braised pork belly, shrimp, and vegetables, CultureMap described.
Winning the competition will allow Saigon Hustle founders Cassie Ghaffar and Sandy Nguyen to open a second location of the fast casual restaurant.
Nguyen expressed her admiration for Savory Fund’s experience growing restaurants into multi-unit operations in a message to CultureMap.
“More importantly the managing partner also comes from the tech industry,” the news site quoted Nguyen’s message.
“They have an amazing team for every aspect to run a successful brand, and that’s what’s so admirable and respectable.
“We are beyond thrilled at the opportunities we have with them.”
Saigon Hustle is one of three establishments Ghaffar and Nguyen operate as part of their Ordinary Concepts hospitality group.
They also own a coffee shop and café in Garden Oaks that is adjacent to Saigon Hustle as well as a healthy eating restaurant in Hermann Park.
Created in 2020, the $200 million Savory Fund has backed chains such as The Crack Shack, Swig, R&R Barbeque, Via 313 and Pincho, according to RestaurantBusinessOnline.com.
Savory Fund opened its call last fall with the intent of awarding a restaurant entrepreneur the resources to open or assist with their second location.