Phonatic, the Vietnamese restaurant right opposite the bookstore on Angell Street, will close after this Christmas when its five year lease ends. The decision to not renew the lease of the popular eatery comes after weeks of painful deliberation by its owner and after years of struggling to survive.
The reason for Phonatic’s departure is due to the rising costs of rent on shop locations near Thayer Street, as well as the rise in food prices. This has cut into the restaurant’s earnings and has forced the owner to pass on the cost to its customers, as is reflected by the menu mark-ups in recent months. In the months during which most Brown students leave campus, Phonatic’s business grinds to a near halt as they are forced to stomach the loss in revenue. Once the restaurant closes, most of the staff of Phonatic will move to Pho Paradise, a restaurant operated by the same owner in the West End.
Students have long flocked to Phonatic for their large, affordable bowls of pho (Vietnamese noodles), served usually with thinly sliced rare beef cooked that is cooked by the steaming hot soup. The lack of Vietnamese food options in Providence, unless you count those nime chows in the Blue Room, has left pho aficionados hard-pressed to find other alternatives. Although not a fan of the restaurant, due to its food quality and service, Vietnamese Students Association co-Chair Steven Tran ’13 said that, “I would only go to Phonatic when I craved a warm bowl of something that resembled the Vietnamese noodle soup that I love.”
Trinh Duong, the owner’s wife who has been in charge of day-to-day operations of Phonatic for the past year, says, “A lot of people love my food and they’ve told me that they’ll follow me once I move.” Even if you don’t get the chance to drop by Phonatic and say goodbye before the end of this semester, you can still hop on a bus to visit Duong and her crew at their other restaurant to experience a little bit of yummy, brothy paradise.