|Predecessor(s)||Lee Bros. Foodservices, Inc|
|Headquarters||San Jose, California|
|Number of locations||43|
|Area served||California, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Oklahoma|
|Key people||Chieu Le, Henry Le (Founders)|
Lee's Sandwiches International, Inc., is a fast food restaurant chain found in the American Southwest, specializing in Vietnamese cuisine. While originally famous for selling bánh mì (Vietnamese sandwiches), the chain has expanded its offering to many other goods, including packaged spring rolls, specialty drinks, desserts, and other food-to-go items. It has many different bánh mì and smoothie selections. The chain's Vietnamese-style sandwiches use French baguette bread. It has its headquarters in San Jose, California.
Lee's Sandwiches was started by the Le (Vietnamese: Lê) family in San Jose, California, after immigrating from Vietnam to San Jose in 1980. After several years of working in a catering truck, Chieu Le and Henry Le operated their own truck and later began their own mobile catering distribution business named Lee Bros. Foodservices, Inc. They anglicized their surname to "Lee" for business purposes. In 1983, Chieu and Henry's parents had success selling bánh mì from their truck, and they decided to open a permanent store originally called Saigon Gourmet. Then in 2001, the family modernized their traditional Vietnamese bakery-cafes to today's concept of Lee's Sandwiches . They eventually expanded to many other cities in California and were the first to franchise the Vietnamese deli-cafe concept.
By 2006, they have expanded into Arizona, Texas, and Oklahoma and continued to focus on areas with significant Vietnamese-American populations. They have plans to expand in the Pacific states of Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.
In March 2006, the largest Lee's Sandwiches location opened in Houston, Texas at 10,000 square feet. Prior to then, many Houstonians had visited Orange County, California, and ate at other Lee's Sandwiches there. A manager of the first Lee's location in Houston said that many people were waiting in line before the Houston restaurant opened.
Many locations feature Wi-Fi and drive-through services. Many locations also have computer monitors that call out order numbers in both Vietnamese and English. In addition, most restaurants feature a large flashing neon-sign that lights up to show customers that hot baguettes are being served at the time, similar to the "Hot Doughnuts Now" sign at Krispy Kreme.
Lee's Sandwiches' bánh mì come with a selection of traditional cold cuts such as pork roll, head cheese, jambon, and cured pork. They also provide sandwich varieties such as the Grilled Pork, Grilled Chicken, B.B.Q Pork, Pork Meatball, Shredded Pork, Sardine, and Vegetarian. All the Vietnamese sandwiches except for the Vegetarian sandwich come with onions, house pickles, jalapeños, cilantro, salt, pepper. Sandwiches also come with different sauces including soy sauce, fish sauce, pâté spread, and house mayonnaise.
European-style sandwiches are provided on either a baguette or croissant with meat options of roast beef, turkey, salami, ham, and tuna. Veggies on the sandwich include lettuce and tomatoes, while on the side are red onions, a pickle, and a pepperoncini.
Lee's Sandwiches offers their version of Cafe Sua Da called Lee's Coffee. They also provide Italian soda, smoothies, and sweet teas in many flavors. Many of their drinks also come with the option of whipped cream, pearl tapioca, grass jelly, passion fruit jelly, and coffee jelly.
In addition to French baguettes, Lee's Sandwiches bakes an assorted array of pastries including butter croissants, danishes, almond croissants, and coconut raisin croissants, ham & cheese croissants, French horns, pâté chauds, muffins, and coconut waffles.
Many locations offer various types of hot and cold Vietnamese dessert. They also offer flan, cơm rượu, Vietnamese yogurt, and Rau câu (gelatin dessert). Lee's Coconut, a coconut filled with coconut jelly, can also be found. While ice cream is discontinued at locations in California, it is still served at the Oklahoma City and Houston locations.
While the majority of customers at the restaurants are Vietnamese American or other Asian Americans, as of 2006, 80% of the customers at some Lee's restaurants in California are non-Asian. About 20% of the customers at the Houston locations, as of 2006, were non-Asian. Ryan Nguyen Hubris, vice president of Lee's, said that many blue collar Hispanic workers go to Lee's because the menu items are inexpensive and cheaper than comparable items from some Mexican restaurants and food trucks.
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