Hien Le believes the best way for everyone to be happy is if their tummies are full.
It’s why her family opened up Petite Saigon, the first Vietnamese restaurant in Airdrie, more than 20 years ago.
“Everyone needs food,” says Le, who took over the restaurant from her parents 10 years ago.
“We use our food as a way to help spread joy because it’s been a rough few years for people, especially families. Giving back is one of my biggest things I try to do.”
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic Le has donated food to those in need. Once a month, Le also runs a giveaway for a free family-sized platter of food.
“I believe what comes around goes around, and that’s why we are here years later,” she says.
Le was nominated 15 times for the Amazing Airdrie Women Awards. Many nominators spoke to the legacy and impact Le and the rest of her family have made in Airdrie.
Nominator Jeremy Winterton says Le has one of the biggest hearts of anyone he’s ever met.
“Most people know her as the owner of Petite Saigon, but I have had the privilege of calling her friend for some time now. There is no differentiating how she treats customers and how she treats everyone else in her life,” says Winterton.
Beverly Robinson says Le has been determined to keep operating her restaurant through the pandemic, while still finding time for her family.
“[Le] and her husband are also raising three beautiful and compassionate boys who are involved in everything from piano lessons to football,” says Robinson.
“She is a dedicated mom who gives back to her community through hard work and determination.”
Le says she is shocked and honored to learn how many in the community wanted to recognize her and Petite Saigon. She says the last few years have been difficult navigating pandemic restrictions.
In late 2021 however, Le signed another five-year lease to continue her family’s legacy in Airdrie. She’s looking forward to eventually celebrating 30 years, whatever may come.
“Even though we haven’t been open for dine-in, and even though there’s been a lot of business cuts, I have always tried to give back to this community,” says Le.
“I love Airdrie. It’s the people in this community that have grown my business and grown my family. The best way to give thanks is to give back.”