The downtown Tacoma restaurant is the 17th location for Than Brothers, which opened its first pho restaurant in 1996 in North Seattle and is managed by a farflung network of extended family.
The new Tacoma outpost is operated by Le-Uyen Than and her husband Chi Dang. The first Than Brothers opened in 1996, the same year Le-Uyen Than's daughter was born. Her uncle operates the Than Brothers outposts in Lakewood and South Tacoma.
I asked Than why the family selected Pacific Avenue as their newest location and she said it was because of the stream of students the family has attracted to their Than Brothers in Seattle's University District. "That location has the most customers and most of them are students," she said by phone. She expects the same for the University of Washington Tacoma location.
Than Brothers has built a following in Seattle for its inexpensive pho and freshly made cream puffs. I've always wondered why South Sound Than Brothers locations don't serve the cream puffs. I asked Than if the Tacoma location would serve the cream puffs, but she said probably not. The drive from Everett - where the cream puffs are baked - is too far for an employee to make every day to Tacoma.
Next up at UWT: Jimmy John's, a sandwich shop (not Jersey Mike's, as this post said earlier).
Open recently: Besides Granola's, the mobile bagel truck Budha Bear.
Vietnamese tip: There's another Vietnamese Restaurant on Pacific Avenue worth your dining dollars. The Orange Door opened in 2011 (it was Pho 701 when it opened). The restaurant is at 701 Pacific. Details here.