Keene is a cute little town in Cheshire County, New Hampshire. Settled in 1736, it has a population of less than 25,000. It’s home to Keene State College and Antioch University New England and it hosted the state’s annual pumpkin festival from 1991 until 2014.
But nowadays it has a much bigger claim to fame – it has a restaurant with the best name in the world. But it almost didn’t happen.
It seems that one Isabelle Jolie was in the midst of building her upcoming French-Vietnamese restaurant in a local storefront, right next to Keene’s City Hall. But they had a problem – City Manager Elizabeth Dragon said that Jolie wouldn’t be allowed to hang a sign with the name of the restaurant. That would normally be rather unusual – a restaurant owner that can’t put up a sign for her own restaurant? But the issue wasn’t the actual hanging of the sign; it was because of the name of the restaurant.
See, the name of this restaurant in Keene N.H. is a play on words. There’s a type of Vietnamese soup called “pho,” but it’s pronounced “fuh.” So take “pho,” followed by the name of the town, followed by the word “great.”
And so, of course, the City Council had a cow over that, saying it was “offensive.”
The restaurant owners-to-be took to Facebook and ran a poll to see if people thought the sign was offensive or not. 3,400 people responded and 97% of them said it wasn’t.
“This place sounds great,” said one FB commenter. “The only thing Keene needs more than a great Pho place is a sense of humor.”
A few days later, the city relented and the name of the restaurant was approved. “We are excited to have a new restaurant open in the community,” said Dragon in an email. “We anxiously await your scheduled opening in March!”
And open they did, in March 2019. They’ve been around ever since.
And I think that’s just Pho Keene Great.
So yeah…next time we’re anywhere near Keene N.H., guess where we’re going? 😉
Here’s their website, in case you want to learn more about Pho Keene Great. Or to order a T-shirt…which I kinda want to do 😉
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary