Cali Baguette Express
Cali Baguette Express, a Vietnamese sandwhich shop opened on El Cajon Boulevard in April of 2008. Those new to this type of cuisine may be surprised that this traditional Vietnamese sandwhich, called banh mi, is served on a freshly baked crispy French baguette. The contents of the sandwich are amazingly diverse. Ingredients include crunchy sliced pickled carrots and daikon, onions, cucumbers, cilantro, jalapeño peppers and a variety of meat or vegetarian options, including roasted or grilled pork, Vietnamese ham, paté, barbeque chicken, turkey or shrimp.
The proud new owner of Cali Baguette Express is Joe Phung. He considers himself fortunate to have found such a superb location on the corner of 52nd and El Cajon Boulevard. The location also adds a claim to fame for being the only drive-thru Vietnamese restaurant in all of San Diego. For fifteen years Joe owned a furniture store, but he saw the business slowing down drastically and knew that he needed to make a change. He held a meeting with his family, including his daughter and son who are both in their early twenties, to brainstorm a more lucrative business investment. Joe embraced the opinions of his family and bought into the Baguette Express franchise, which operates in a few other locations in Los Angeles and Arizona, and added Cali to the title in recognition of the family's residency.
By providing his customers with great service and healthy and delicious sandwiches for only $3, Joe realizes his return on this investment everyday by watching people smile as they eat. This is a family business, where both his son and daughter work at the restaurant as well. He is pleased to have the support of his family because together they feel a sense of community building between their multicultural clientele. As he mentioned, "We aren't rich yet, but we make people happy, and in return, this makes us happy."