Staff, patrons, and friends of beloved Sixth Street Vietnamese restaurant Tú Lan are mourning the loss of owner Anthony Nguyen. A representative for the restaurant confirms his passing, but says the business will remain open as its workers and Nguyen’s family grieves for him. He was 36.
Nguyen’s grandmother began operating Tú Lan in 1977, with Nguyen’s father taking over and riffing on her recipes. Julia Child, who once enjoyed Tú Lan’s lemon beef salad, famously approved of the restaurant: Her image and endorsement are on the menu to this day.
Nguyen was a steady presence behind the counter at Tú Lan, popular with diners for his friendly, welcoming demeanor. He oversaw a difficult period in the restaurant’s history, working with the health department to reopen the restaurant, thus saving it from a possibly permanent closure. According to many patrons, it returned as good as ever.
Members of the San Francisco food community appear surprised and saddened to lose him. He is survived by his mother, father, and siblings.
“Anthony was one of sweetest guys on the block. Always smiling and always ready to help,” Gianluca Legrottaglie, who owns nearby restaurant Montesacro, tells Eater. “When I first opened, he’d show up out of the blue with trays of his amazing food from Tú Lan, sit at a table and enjoy a pinsa... I hope his legacy will continue in the years to come and we hope that his mother, who’s now running the business, will have the support she needs.”
My absolute favorite restaurant in all of SF is Tu Lan. Not just because the amazing food and incredible ambiance but because it was run by the great Anthony Nguyen. He passed away yesterday. He was wonderful person and his absence will truly be felt by all those who’ve come to know and love him. It is truly a sad day in San Francisco and my heart goes out to his family and the restaurant I’ve grown to love. #anthonynguyen#tulan
Update, June 29: Memorial Services for Nguyen will be held Sunday, July 1st, from 3:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at McAvoy O’Hara & Evergreen Mortuary, 4545 Geary Blvd, San Francisco. A funeral ceremony will be held on Monday, July 2nd, 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., at McAvoy O’Hara & Evergreen Mortuary. The burial will occur at Holy Cross Cemetery, 1500 Mission Road, Colma, from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.