EXTRA-ORDINARY NEWS

Houston Vietnamese restaurant wins $1M VC investment in top industry competition

Saigon Hustle owners Sandy Nguyen and Cassie Ghaffar. Courtesy of Saigon Hustle

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

The private equity firm picked the Houston restaurant from a pool of more than 240 applicants, according to a release. 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 brick and mortar restaurant in February. The fast casual 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.

Winning the competition 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 have been looking in a number of neighborhoods, including Katy, Memorial, and Bellaire-Meyerland.

"I had tears in my eyes from the overwhelming emotions and we both screamed," Nguyen writes in a message about how she reacted to the news. "This partnership means so much to us."

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

"More importantly the managing partner also comes from the tech industry," she explains. "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 Sunday Press, a coffee shop and cafe in Garden Oaks that's adjacent to Saigon Hustle, and Ginger Kale, a healthy eating 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,” Savory managing director Andrew K. Smith added. “We are passionate about helping as many restaurateurs as we can because we are restaurant operators at our core. We know the journey from concept to first location and we know the challenges and struggles that accompany growth from first to second unit and we understand them intimately. We hope to create a lifetime worth of success and inspire other concepts to never give up on themselves."

------

This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Trending News

Building Houston

 
 

With the consumer price index rising 9.1 percent since last year, many Americans are evaluating new employment opportunities with better pay. However, employees would be wise to consider the risks of accepting a new position in the face of inflation and a possible recession, which could leave employers unable to sustain higher wages and generous benefits.

As a safer option in the longterm, employees may wish to ask for a raise from their current management, yet many do not know how to start the conversation. By understanding best practices for negotiations, employees can improve their chances of obtaining a pay raise without undermining relationships.

Understand the risks of job-hopping

Conventional wisdom suggests that job hopping can result in higher salary increases than an annual raise. During the pandemic, many employees took advantage of labor market shortages to secure new positions for higher pay. However, job hopping presents risks, particularly in an uncertain economic environment. Companies may institute “last in, first out” layoffs, leaving recent hires unemployed.

Even in strong economic conditions, job-hoppers face uncertain outcomes. When employees leave a company, they may leave behind teammates, mentors, client partnerships and friendships years in the making. These relationships can redevelop in a new organization, but employees may find themselves in an unfamiliar setting, facing unrealistic expectations or unexpected challenges that were not clear during the interview process.

Prepare ahead of time

Before approaching management with a request for a raise, employees should understand their own financial needs and how much additional compensation would improve their finances. If inflation has caused financial strain, employees should gather recent data on inflation, including the consumer price index, to share with management. The more information employees can offer about changing economic conditions, the more management will understand and accept their position.

Focus on the positive

Employees should begin a conversation about salary with praise for the organization and a reiteration of their commitment to the team. By beginning on a positive note, employees set the tone for a mutually productive conversation. Although employees may view salary negotiations as adversarial across the table, productive negotiations are a conversation with both employee and employer on the same team.

Likewise, while employees may worry about looking greedy, employees should not let that fear prevent them from opening the conversation. Employers also understand that employees work to meet their financial needs. While employers may face budget constraints or other considerations in salary allocation, strong management also recognizes the importance of nurturing growth among employees, both in compensation and job responsibilities.

Nonetheless, employees should focus the discussion on broader economic conditions like inflation, not on their personal budget items. By acknowledging the economic environment outside of the employer’s control, employees can then respectfully request their salary be adjusted for inflation.

Employees with a record of strong results can also gather data or performance reviews to demonstrate their contributions to the team beyond the expectations of their role. In doing so, employees can frame a salary increase as a celebratory recognition of the mutually successful partnership between employee and employer and an investment in the relationship.

Be flexible if negotiations stall

If employers decline to adjust an employee’s salary for inflation, employees should not give up on negotiating additional compensation or benefits. Rather than a pay raise, employees can ask for reimbursement for gas mileage or additional remote days to cut down on their commutes. If management declines a pay raise based on timing, employees can acknowledge that management may face budgetary constraints, remaining flexible but firm. For instance, a compromise may involve revisiting the discussion in three to six months.

As employees face record-breaking inflation, it remains critical to consider the risks of departing one role for another. By implementing best practices in salary negotiations, employees can secure a salary increase that matches inflation, avoid the uncertainty of job-hopping and invest in the future at their current company.

------

Jill Chapman is a senior performance consultant with Insperity,a leading provider of human resources and business performance solutions.

Trending News