Vietnamese restaurant in Houston wins $1 million venture capital investment in high-profile competition


The Anew Houston restaurant will be able to expand thanks to a venture capital investment of $1 million. The Savory Fund selected the Vietnamese restaurant in Houston The bustle of Saigon as the winner of its Million Dollar Restaurant Launch contest.

The private equity firm chose the Houston restaurant from a pool of more than 240 applicants, according to a statement. In addition to cash, the investment provides 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 brick-and-mortar restaurant in February. The fast-casual concept offers both well-executed classic Vietnamese dishes and creative interpretations, such as honey-glazed salmon rolls or a twist on the classic bánh xèo: a flour and turmeric pancake filled with pork belly braised, prawns and vegetables.

Winning the contest will allow Saigon Hustle founders Cassie Ghaffar and Sandy Nguyen to open a second location of the fast casual restaurant. Nguyen tells CultureMap that the duo searched a number of neighborhoods, including Katy, Memorial and Bellaire-Meyerland.

“I had tears in my eyes from the overwhelming emotions and we both cried,” Nguyen wrote in a post about how she reacted to the news. “This partnership means so much to us.”

Asked to elaborate, she notes that the founders of Savory Fund have a background in the restaurant industry. They have experience transforming restaurants into multi-unit operations.

“Most importantly, the managing partner also comes from the tech industry,” she explains. “They have an incredible team for every aspect of running a successful brand, and that’s what’s so admirable and respectable. We’re beyond thrilled with the opportunities we have with them.”

Saigon Hustle is one of three establishments that Ghaffar and Nguyen operate as part of their Ordinary Concepts hospitality group. They also own Sunday Press, a cafe and cafe in Garden Oaks, adjacent to Saigon Hustle, and Ginger Kale, a healthy restaurant in Hermann Park.

“We are thrilled to partner with Cassie and Sandy and select Saigon Hustle as the winner of our million dollar restaurant launch opportunity,” added Savory’s Managing Director, Andrew K. Smith. “We are passionate about helping as many restaurateurs as possible because we are restaurateurs at the core. We know the journey from concept to first location and we know the challenges and struggles that come with growing from first to second unit and we understand them intimately. We hope to create a life of success and inspire other concepts to never give up.”


This article was originally published on CultureMap.


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