If there’s a long line at Pho Please, a new restaurant in Austin, you might miss a small place of reverence. Placed in front of the counter against the edge of the wall is a small lacquered cabinet with colorful objects inside. On top is a flowering bromeliad so you would be excused for thinking this is simply a plant stand. But look underneath and you’ll see this is a shrine. A tiny smiling Buddha is surveying the restaurant, enjoying a plate of mangos, and savoring a cup of coffee.
I asked the staff about the shrine and they told me the owners take care of it every day. “They make sure there’s incense and a new cup of coffee.” I asked if they placed it there in order to have good luck and they thought that might be the reason. So I asked how long they have been open and how the business is going. “We’ve been open four months and it’s going very well.” Maybe it’s just a good excuse to make coffee and take a break, but for these restaurant owners, a devotional shrine must be working.
Pho Please, 1920 East Riverside Drive, Austin, Texas.