From steep competition of over 240 applicants across the East and West coast, Savory Fund announced Saigon Hustle as the winner of its Million Dollar Restaurant Launch opportunity.
Last fall, Savory Fund announced a one-of-a-kind opportunity called the Million Dollar Restaurant Launch, to award an inspiring restaurant entrepreneur the resources to launch their concept or scale to their second location.
With their $1 million investment ready, Savory Fund has identified Houston-based Saigon Hustle as the winner. The innovative fast-casual restaurant serves up healthy, locally sourced Vietnamese classics, such as Bahn Mí sandwiches, rice bowls, vermicelli (noodle) bowls, and signature Saigon crêpe rolls.
Saigon Hustle was founded by Cassie Ghaffar and Sandy Nguyen, co-owners and best friends who met at the University of Houston. After successfully launching other business ventures, the duo eventually reunited to create their experiential fast-casual concept. Coming from a city that is a rich environment for Vietnamese restaurants, Ghaffar and Nguyen are looking to bring the beloved flavor profile from Houston to markets across the U.S. in a fun and approachable format including drive-thru, digital and frictionless pickup options, as well as dine-in.
“Throughout the last 10 years of my career, I have always reminded myself that the hard work and sacrifice would pay off one day,” says Ghaffar. “Not only has it paid off, our partnership with Savory is the ultimate icing on the cake that brings everything full circle. Since the announcement, we continue to have butterflies in our stomach thinking about this new journey we are on with Savory.”
“Everything I learned in this industry for the past decade had to have happened in order give me the vision, knowledge and trajectory of what Saigon Hustle needed to be today,” shares Nguyen. “I cried tears of joy at the announcement because we didn’t just win $1 million, we won a partnership of a lifetime!”
“We are thrilled to partner with Cassie and Sandy and select Saigon Hustle as the winner of our Million Dollar Restaurant Launch opportunity,” says Andrew K. Smith, Managing Director of Savory. “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 is just the beginning for Saigon Hustle, and we are very excited to be a part of this new venture. We believe with our experience and their hard work, Saigon Hustle can become the next big name in new flavor trends in the industry,” says Alonso Castañeda, VP of Brand Development and Strategy for Savory.
Multiple vendors from the restaurant industry have joined Savory in advancing restaurant entrepreneurship. Thanx, a data-driven guest engagement and digital loyalty platform, strongly believes in the need to help the next wave of young brands and has offered to support the winners and provide services at no cost for the brand’s first 20 units. 86 Repairs, a technology platform that enables restaurateurs to seamlessly manage repairs and maintenance, will also provide support at no cost.
Ghaffar and Nguyen will share their story on stage and receive their $1 million from Savory Fund at the equity firm’s fourth annual summit – Restaurantology 2022. This summit is put on by operators – for operators and has no cost to attend. Savory Fund covers 100% of the cost to share tips, tricks, and information on how to scale any concept from 2-20 units and beyond.