Daughter’s viral TikTok clip saves dad’s Vietnamese eatery in California
Daughter’s viral TikTok clip saves dad’s Vietnamese eatery in California Image Credit: Screengrab from TikTok/@jennif3rle

A Vietnamese restaurant in California is seeing many more customers this week, after the owner’s daughter shared a TikTok video of her father waiting for customers in an empty eatery. The video, which lasted all of seven seconds, touched many hearts.

Jennifer Lee, 21, filmed the clip on January 17, while helping out at her parents at their restaurant, Lee’s Noodle House in Santa Rosa.

The next day she posted the video on TikTok, with the words: “It makes me so sad to see my parents just wait for customers to walk through the door to eat at their Vietnamese restaurant.”

The video showed her dad, Vuong Lee, pensively looking at the entrance door.

“TikTok do your thing and help support my parents’ Vietnamese restaurant. My parents have not been having that many customers and [have] been feeling stressed dealing with financial issues. If you want to check it out, they make delicious Vietnamese food,” she added, along with the address of the restaurant.

The touching sight of the man wearing a red winter jacket and leaning on the counter of the empty restaurant, the background music, and Lee’s caption was enough to draw the collective attention of TikTokers from the US and across the world.

The seven-second clip, posted on January 18, has since garnered more than 1 million views and nearly 120,000 likes.

After the TikTok video went viral, Lee’s Noodle House started receiving a rush of new customers. Many also took to the comments section to support the business and ask Lee for more information about the restaurant.

TikToker @Bibimboo0 replied: "Seeing this right before my trip to Santa Rosa, tomorrow, is a sign! I’m definitely coming by!"

Meanwhile, @Stassy wrote: "I live far away but wishing you prosperity in your business," as she commented to boost TikTok's algorithm, so the video reached more people's feeds.

And, @infamous_211 added: "We are on the way! Gimme about 12 hours. Biking from the city."

On February 3, Lee posted an update thanking people for their support and uploaded two more TikTok videos to provide more information on the restaurant and its menu.

In the caption for a video shared on Thursday, she wrote: “The amount of love and responses from the TikTok community has been insane! Also, thank you to the customers who have been coming for years, too! The comment section has brought my parents and me to tears. We are so grateful for all the support, and for everyone who is coming! We hope you can continue to spread the word [about] our small family business. My parents are the hardest workers I know and I just want happiness and good health for them. Please remember to be patient, as they are the only ones working…”

The Press Democrat, a newspaper based in California’s North Bay, quoted Lee as saying: “What made me do it? I think it made me really sad… I just wanted people to come. That was his actual reaction. He was really sad.”

According to the report, Jennifer’s mom Ha Tran is the head chef. Her dad, Vuong Lee, cooks and serves. Jennifer’s older sister worked at the restaurant for years before becoming a nurse. Jennifer worked there all through high school, as has her younger sister Jessica and their younger brother.

The article also quoted the TikToker’s father, who said he was unaware that Lee had filmed and posted the video. He was surprised when you found out it had gone viral.

“But it’s a fact. How come at nighttime nobody dines in? It is so stressful. We usually close at 9pm, now we close at 7.30pm because you can’t afford to pay gas and electricity and all that, and you cannot wait for customers,” he added.