“Pho Keene Great” Grand Opening: Photos & Review

The line outside prior to PKG's opening.

The line outside prior to PKG’s opening.

This afternoon at just before three, approximately 25 people were in line to be the first paying customers at the new Keene Vietnamese restaurant, “Pho Keene Great“. If you’re new to the Pho Keene Great story, here’s a recap of what happened with their viral showdown with the City of Keene’s Dragon. When the door was opened for the first time today, the initial customers were welcomed by the PKG crew, all wearing black uniforms including t-shirts and hats bearing the Pho Keene Great logo.

PKG’s bustling staff-on-duty numbered at least a dozen plus Chris Rietmann, the proprietor of Route 101 Local Goods, who was at the front at a table offering the hot-selling Pho Keene Great merchandise like t-shirts, hats, bumper stickers and the newest item – tote bags. Plus, each customer walking in was given a free limited-run “Live Pho or Die!” sticker in the shape of New Hampshire and featuring the PKG logo character.

If you aren’t able to come to Keene and still want your own Pho Keene Great gear, you can order it online with your credit card or cryptocurrency like bitcoin at Route 101 Local Goods.

Only a fraction of the busy crew on-duty at PKG.

Only a fraction of the busy crew on-duty at PKG.

After the initial group entered, more came in and by the time I left an hour later, not only was I full, but so was Pho Keene Great. Founder Isabelle Rose was seen in the kitchen, constantly active and focused on preparing the delicious food.

The guy sitting next to me at the bar, Matt, has spent most of his life running professional kitchens and he makes a habit of reviewing the restaurants he visits on Yelp. His review for Pho Keene Great was the first the restaurant had received and he left five stars and this review:

I was in line for the grand opening and was served second out of the group. I ordered their meatball pho.

Broth: simple, clear, delicate.
Noodles: perfect.
Meatballs: dense, perfect.

Route 101 Local Goods' Chris Rietmann talks to a happy customer.

Route 101 Local Goods’ Chris Rietmann talks to a happy customer.

Service: excellent, professional, well seasoned.I’ve been a part of at least 20 restaurant openings in my career and looking around at this one, I see very few foibles or parts that need polish. The food was barely too long in coming, but this is literally DAY ONE, HOUR ONE. I’m extremely impressed at how well out together and error-free this has been, and I can’t wait to come back. I’m so happy not only that there’s a pho place in town, but moreso that there’s a place in town with truly fantastic food and service in a restaurant that is perfectly suitable for everything from family dinners and celebrations to business dinners.

Southeast Asian food should tick all boxes when it comes to flavor in each bite. Pho Keene Great delivers on that necessity and does it in a classy but relaxed environment, and at a reasonable price. Definitely recommend.

The restaurant will initially be open at 3pm daily except Tuesdays and offer a limited dinner menu, though with a full bar and liquor license. They even have a beer on tap from Marlborough’s Frogg Brewing.

Later they are planning to expand Pho Keene Great to include lunch and take-out, but for now they’re keeping it simple to get the gears turning. The restaurant is located next door to City Hall at 11 Central Square in Keene, NH. Here are a few more photos I snapped of the grand opening:

Pho Keene Great, minutes before opening for the first time.

Pho Keene Great, minutes before opening for the first time.

Silhouettes of the intial crowd of customers - view from the bar.

Silhouettes of the intial crowd of customers – view from the bar.

Initial customers wait patiently in the cold, for delicious hot pho soup.

Initial customers wait patiently in the cold, for delicious hot pho soup.

The green version of the sticker given to the first 100 customers!

The green version of the sticker given to the first 100 customers!

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12 Comments

  1. Where is jumping jacks to nitpick and troll

  2. Why aren’t you spelling the rest of the story out — that this excites you because it’s a euphemism for “fucking great”?

    Diversity is our greatest streeeeeeength. Help darken New Englanders today!

  3. PHO KEENE AWESOME !!

  4. Love the banner, “Free Keene Great”. Well done.

  5. The cities dragon? Don’t you think it’s time to let that misunderstanding go? I have never seen any other stories about any other restaurants posted on this blog unless it’s freekeene owned. It would appear you are trying to ride the coat tails of the owners limelight. Again, the misunderstanding regarding the name of the restaurant was a snafu and resolved quickly. Let it go

  6. Yes Jacks, it all did work out, now didn’t it? Do you think that the unflattering media exposure Keene’s new city manager was receiving from the national press may have had something to do with it?

    Oh, and Jacks? Have you heard? PKG has opened with tremendous fanfare! And they accept bitcoins as payment! I’ll bet you’re super excited about that, aren’t you pookie bear?

  7. The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants . It is its natural manure. TJ letter to Colonel Smith ..

  8. Tried to go tonight and it was Pho Keene closed. Sign about an electrical problem on the door. Went there on the way to Boston from skiing and loved the Indian restaurant instead. Love Pho and learned about it through the national coverage. Controversy or brilliant marketing? Keene is on the foodie map. Now get the place open for our next stop!

  9. Drac, they do not accept bitcoin, yet.

  10. She was taking them when she had the food truck. Any idea why she’s not taking them now, Ian?

  11. Her investor partner hasn’t been convinced yet.

  12. Ah. That would do it. Thanks for the particulars, Ian.

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