First, the mouthwatering news: After closing temporarily in the spring, 208 Pho & Vegan plans to reopen in Boise’s North End — if not by the time you read this, then sometime later this week.
Now, the bummer news.
The local chain, which leased the former Rockies Diner spot at 3900 W. Overland Road, has abandoned its plan to open there.
Motorists on the Boise Bench have seen a new 208 Pho & Vegan sign for months. Two 208 Pho & Vegan banners ripple in the wind. There’s even fresh paint on the building, which served burgers and fries as Rockies for more than a quarter century.
But for various reasons — ranging from hiring difficulties to construction challenges — the expansion won’t happen after all, owner An Nguyen says. “I feel sorry for those people who see the sign,” he admits. “They’re excited — the neighbors around there.”
The space is again available for lease through Colliers.
On a happier note, there are still two places to enjoy 208 Pho & Vegan’s Vietnamese menu. After the cozy location at 808 W. Fort St. went on hiatus in April because of lack of staff, the larger restaurant at 8675 W. Franklin Road remained open. Business is “not, like, extremely good,” Nguyen says. “But it’s above the water. I’m above the water.”
Despite working 12- to 16-hour days, Nguyen says, he’s looking forward to serving his North End clientele again. He plans to reward returning customers with complimentary egg rolls or spring rolls as a way of expressing gratitude. “They hang in there for me,” he explains.
The restaurant’s specialty is pho, a deliciously salty, slow-simmered broth filled with meat and noodles. The signature offering, 208 Pho ($13.95), includes rare steak, brisket and choice of meatball or tendon. Carnivores and vegetarians alike will find something to savor among other menu items, whether it’s those crispy egg or spring rolls ($7.25), vermicelli noodle and rice dishes, boba and smoothies — or a $15 special such as stir-fried squid or shaking beef.
Opened in 2020, the nearly 3,000-square-foot space at 8675 W. Franklin Road was the third location for 208 Pho & Vegan. A short-lived second restaurant operated at 7310 W. State St. until 2019. The original spot, a chopstick’s toss from the Boise Co-op, opened in 2016.
Nguyen says he still hopes to expand to the Bench someday.
“Who knows, down the road,” he says.
But the old Rockies spot? Despite an initial investment, things just didn’t work out. “I’m in it to make it happen,” he explains. “I’m not just in it to make it halfway. Because it’s cost me money.”
▪ Where do you go for your pho fix? Vote in our survey, or follow this link if you can’t see it below.