Why did you decide to pursue a career in the restaurant business?
I have always had a passion for food and using my creative energy to come up with new and
exciting ways present dishes. I love cooking for people and it had been a dream of mine to of
open up a café for many years. Even as I worked on my other businesses, I would visualize
exactly how my place would look, what the dishes would taste like, and what kind of
atmosphere it would be for my guests. Amour Amour is the realization of my long-time dream.
Where are you originally from and when did you get into the restaurant business?
I was born in Vietnam and I am of Vietnamese and French heritage. My family and I came to
the US when I was a teenager. My family has been involved in some restaurant businesses in
the past, but I wanted to create something totally different, something very unique. I wanted
to create Amour Amour on my own. I had never run a restaurant before, this is my first venture
in the restaurant business.
Tell us about your career path. How did you get your start? How and why did you open Amour Amour?
Amour Amour Wine Bar and Tapas
305 E. Fourth Ave.
San Mateo, CA 94401
(650) 513 - 1759
I have been fortunate to be able to start many different types of business previously. My most
recent business was operating a skin care business, ironically in the exact same location as
Amour Amour for 15 years. I have many varied interests, and while I was passionate about my
skin care business, it was time to for a new journey. I had the idea of Amour Amour for many
years, and decided now was the right time to open it. It was an extremely difficult decision to
close a successful skin care business with all of my loyal clients, but it was the right decision.
How do you like the area your restaurant is in?
I have been in this location for over 15 years, and I absolutely love it. I wanted to create a cozy
neighborhood spot, just like the places in Europe that I've been to. I designed my space
myself, and I knew exactly how I would decorate it. As you can probably tell, I also have a
passion for interior design. Many European people have told me they feel so at home here
and love this place, so I believe I have accomplished my goal.
In many ways, you revolutionized the fusion and organic concept for restaurants. What
inspired you to integrate that idea into your businesses?
I have been very fortunate to have traveled extensively throughout Europe and Asia. I have
lived in France as well. It is my idea to take the best from all of my travels and my experiences
and bring them to Amour Amour. It's the artistry in developing complex flavors with simple
quality ingredients that fuels my passion. I just love the process of creating new dishes.
Foie Gras - seared, marionberry reduction, wine poached pear
What are you working on right now?
I am pleased that Amour Amour is doing well so early on, and I am working hard everyday to
make it better. I am still coming up with new dishes all the time and thinking of ways to have
fun events at Amour Amour. I am pleased with the success so far, but I believe Amour Amour
has a lot more fun and exciting times ahead.
Do you have a favorite mantra that keeps you inspired?
Not really. I just try to stay positive, work hard and follow my passion. It's worked so far for
Blue Crab Cake: Aged balsamic, onion (made fresh daily)
What has been your greatest professional success and biggest setback?
My greatest professional success has been creating Amour Amour. Taking the space from a
salon to a restaurant was incredibly difficult. Even though I had designed every aspect of
Amour Amour in my head from interior design to menu creation, it was a tremendous amount
of work to finally complete.
My biggest setback probably has been the first several months after opening. I had never run
a restaurant before, and no matter how much people warned me that the hardest business to
run is a restaurant, it was simply overwhelming. I would go home every night completely
mentally and physically exhausted. I am so glad that I have learned so much since then, and
Amour Amour is doing well now.
Kaffir Lime Beef: cabernet sauvignon marinade, chimichurri, saffron
What are your day-to-day responsibilities as a restaurant owner and manager?
I am responsible for all aspects of the restaurant from creating the menu, training the staff,
sourcing the food products, scheduling the employees, managing finances and payroll,
marketing the business, and managing the vendors. I also do a lot of the cooking, serving and
cleaning, whatever it takes, I do it.
What's your secret to keeping customers coming in? What have been some of your most
successful promotions, and where did they originate?
I have tried many different promotions, advertisements and social media. While those are
important, I have found that nothing is better than word of mouth recommendations,
especially for my type of business. If my customers have a good experience they will come
back and tell their family and friends about it.
As a restaurant manager, how important is it to have actual experience in every aspect of the
business, as you have?
I think it is critical. As I mentioned earlier, I am involved in all day-to-day aspects of the
restaurant, so I know exactly where my wine comes from and where my cheese and meat
come from. I know all of my ingredients intimately, so I can explain to the guests exactly what
they are drinking and eating, and why I choose that wine or that farm source, and what are the
What are some of the challenges of being a restaurant owner and manager?
Even though I have learned a great deal about the restaurant business, it is still a challenging
industry. It is not an easily predictable business sector, no question about it. Guests have
unique tastes and palates, so I just try to deliver great wine and great tapas with excellent
service, and trust my guests will value it.
Sachet de Prosciutto: prosciutto wrapped with goat cheese, fig jam, almond, herbes de provence
What advice can you give to those who would like to open a restaurant of their own someday?
How can they get from Point A (thinking about an education) to Point B (being a restaurant
It is interesting that you ask me this question. One of my newest ventures is to start my own
consulting business for restaurant start-ups, as well as for spas. From interior and exterior
design to menu creation, sourcing ingredients and choosing vendors, I believe I can help a
great many business owners. Making a great first impression is so important in the restaurant
business and you have to have delicious dishes and drinks in a great atmosphere. I can walk
start-ups through each step of the process, and tell them what to do and not to do, everything
I learned from starting and running Amour Amour.
Organic Pork Belly: slow-braised with leek, garlic, ginger, red wine
What are the best ways for graduating students to find a job in restaurant management? How
can they best break into the field?
The best way to break into the field is to start working at a restaurant and learn. There is no
substitute for hard work and learning the day-to-day responsibilities of running a restaurant. I
had to learn the hard way, which I don't recommend.
How is the job market right now? How do you think it will be in the next five years? 10 years?
The job market right now is definitely good for the job seeker. There will be many
opportunities, but the question is: Are they the right opportunities? I think the economy will
continue grow in the next several years, but after that I cannot predict what will happen.
What do you do on your day off?
I have many interests. I love to travel when I can, I was in Europe recently. I love gardening
and taking care of my chickens at my chicken coop.
What is the most popular dish at Amour Amour?
It changes all the time, but right now the most popular dish is____ It's challenging sometimes
because my guests have their favorites, but I also like to keep Amour Amour evolving. There
are so many dishes I would like to add to my menu, so my staff has to keep reminding me that
I can't add everything at the same time.
What is your favorite dish?
It's like asking a parent about their favorite child. I cannot choose!
Visit Amour Amour Wine Bar and Tapas Restaurant at
305 E. Fourth Ave.,
San Mateo, CA 94401
phone: 650-513-1759 web:
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