When Bobby Hossain heard his friend was launching a food truck — the now-famous Chairman, serving stuffed bao on wheels — he knew he wanted in on the action. That’s why he opened Phat Thai in 2010, his first food truck but also the fifth food business for his family. His grandmother owned three restaurants in Thailand, and Hossain ran Rama Thai with his parents in San Francisco until it closed in the early aughts. Now, more than a decade after launching as a food truck, he’s opening the doors to Phat Thai’s first permanent space at 2380 Lombard Street.
Fans of the Thai food truck can expect that same menu at the physical location, as the restaurant will serve braised five spice chicken, pad see ew with tempura prawns and soft shell crab, and a litany of other classic Thai dishes. But now the popular weekly specials will also be available every day. Hossain says customers badgered him about bringing back the truck’s crispy pork fried rice, usually only served during warmer months, so he knew it was time to add it to the menu for good.
Hossain is taking over the lease at Yukol Palace from a family friend who ran the business for years in the Marina. He says the owner is looking to retire and move back to Thailand, and it’s not lost on the entrepreneur that his parents — who have helped in the food truck over the years — are looking to tap out, too. “Running a food truck is a young man’s game,” Hossain says, “it’s a lot of work. Shifting to the restaurant is a good transition.”
That’s all the more reason why Hossain will bring in his brother to run the bar at the new location. An avid craft beer fan, Hossain’s brother will keep six beers on draft alongside a selection of sake and soju. For now, the restaurant won’t be able to serve their fare and drinks past 10 p.m., but Hossain has plans to pursue an extended service permit as soon as he can. Roping in more of the community, his pal Bobby Ramirez, also known as artist Inkzilla, is painting a San Francisco-inspired mural on the walls before the grand opening.
The opening comes to one of San Francisco’s most well-off neighborhoods in a season where city-dwellers find themselves reading about downtown’s “doom loop” left and right. Hossain isn’t concerned, though, as he says the Marina seems insulated from both recession and COVID impacts. The restaurant opening coincides with the popular, family-friendly Union Street Festival — a good omen, in Hossain’s mind, to why Phat Thai will be successful in this area. “It’s always been busy here,” Hossain says. “If I opened downtown or SoMa it could be more difficult. But I’m surrounded by hotels and tourists.”
Phat Thai debuts at 2380 Lombard Street on Saturday, June 3 from 11 a.m. through 10 p.m.