Forest Park’s Saigon Pho Café announced this week it will relocate in April to Oak Park at the former site of Flat Top Grill, 726 Lake St.
Hai Tran, an Oak Park resident and son of Saigon Pho owners Huynh and Tuyet Tran, said in a telephone interview that the new restaurant is roughly twice the size of the 1,300-square-foot Forest Park location and will seat about 80 patrons, compared to the former 35-seat dining room.
Tran said he and his parents emigrated from Vietnam to Oak Park in 2004. They launched Saigon Pho in Forest Park about five years ago, he said.
“I graduated from [Oak Park and River Forest High School], so it’s like going back home again,” Tran said of the move, adding that the restaurant, which specializes in traditional Vietnamese cuisine — which will be the only one of its kind in Oak Park — plans to keep the menu the same for the first few months, but they plan to add “a lot of dishes” after that.
Tran said one of the popular Asian dishes they want to start selling is known as “hot pot.” The concept involves a portable burner at the table that gives diners a choice of vegetables and meat.
“You put them in the broth and they cook immediately,” Tran said.
The restaurant also will continue to offer pre-packaged soups and sandwiches to go from their “Grab & Go” menu, he said. They’ll offer delivery as well to Oak Park, River Forest and Forest Park.
Saigon Pho is moving toward a liquor license from the village of Oak Park so it can offer beer and wine upon opening.
The family business decided earlier this year to find a new location after they were unable to agree on a new lease at the Forest Park location. The Trans executed the new lease through Oak Park real estate firm David King & Associates.
Tran said he expects the restaurant to open sometime in late April, but a specific date has not been set.
“All we’re asking is for people to give us a try,” he said. “We’d love to stay here as long as we can.”
The small Flat Top chain previously in that location was sold recently, but the new owner chose not to continue in business in Oak Park and a handful of other locations.