Independence Day was good for at least one Independence Avenue restaurant: Pho Hoa Vietnamese Restaurant at 1447 Independence Avenue. Owner Spike Nguyen put a sign on his front door the day before, stating that he would be open on July 4 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. "But people kept coming in, even after 2 p.m.," Nguyen says. "We didn't close until after 6 p.m."
Nguyen celebrated the first anniversary of his franchise venue last month by installing another air-conditioning unit. The hot weather, he says, is hurting his business, although his smoothie trade has increased to the point that he bought an industrial-strength snow-cone machine to provide enough crushed ice for his fruity concoctions.
Next month, Spike Nguyen is introducing a new promotion: "The Spike Challenge."
Nguyen picks up one of four giant pottery pho bowls. The challenge, he says, is that one of the bowls will be filled with 2 pounds of meat and 2 pounds of noodles. Customers who can finish the dish in 45 minutes or less get the meal for free and a commemorative T-shirt. The runners-up can console themselves by purchasing a cold beer: Nguyen says he just got his beer and wine license.