Bánh Mì & Rolls Factory opened Wednesday on Euclid Avenue, providing Berkeley’s Northside with Vietnamese dishes such as banh mi sandwiches and spring rolls.
Owner Khoi Xa, who immigrated to the United States in 2005 from Vietnam, owns and operates multiple Vietnamese eateries in the Bay Area with the help of his wife, Helen Nguyen. Bánh Mì & Rolls Factory is his latest business venture.
Xa said he was initially unfamiliar with the area but developed an interest in the Northside neighborhood.
“I came here with my friend, and I saw that this area looked very busy — before COVID,” Xa said. “Then I saw on Facebook that the owner of the Hummingbird Cafe was selling this location.”
Xa said he bought the location for Bánh Mì & Rolls Factory in December 2019 and decided to open his restaurant during the pandemic because he heard more UC Berkeley students would be returning to campus for the spring semester. Other obligations such as the need to pay rent necessitated the open, he added.
According to Xa, the most popular orders since opening have been the crispy pork roast, the five-spice chicken and the lemongrass grilled pork banh mi.
“The bread — we make it,” Xa said. “We make the stuff for everything; we don’t buy from someone else.”
Bánh Mì & Rolls Factory also sells an assortment of drinks, such as Thai iced tea and Vietnamese iced coffee, Xa noted. The store has a “special promotion” that allows customers to purchase both a banh mi and a drink for $9.50.
While Bánh Mì & Rolls Factory is currently open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Xa plans to change business hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. once the pandemic eases.
“I’m worried about the students being here,” Xa said. “If it keeps like this and the students don’t come back, business will not be good.”
Bánh Mì & Rolls Factory will primarily operate as a to-go business even when the restrictions lift, Xa said. However, he added that he is considering placing chairs and tables for patrons to enjoy their food at the location.