Founder Pat Lee, grew up in the Asian grocery business. His family opened the first Asian grocery store in Austin and years later, built the first “Chinatown” Center in Central Texas. Sara Lee, grew up in San Antonio helping her family run their restaurants. As fate may have it, Pat met Sara upon her graduation from the University of Texas at Austin. Pat shared his love for the food of his homeland with Sara. Together, they opened their first restaurant, Pho Saigon in 2006. Shortly after opening, they realized many people who have never had Vietnamese food were slightly intimidated and often times, confused by the menu, because they were mostly printed in Vietnamese. Phonatic was conceived out of a desire to make Vietnamese food more inviting and less intimidating, in a fast casual environment. They launched the first Phonatic restaurant in October of 2011 and set off on their mission of making Pho Phun, Phast, and Phresh.