In memory of a restaurant empire's matriarch

Dine at Crustacean in Beverly Hills and you might never know, there is a little sadness mixed in with the garlicky roasted crab and famous noodles.

Diana An, the matriarch of the House of An Restaurant Group, passed away Monday, May 9. She was a pioneer, immigrating to the US before the Fall of Saigon.

She was an entrepreneur when few women owned businesses and even now, she is the inspiration for her granddaughters and great grandchildren.

In 1968, An moved to San Francisco to become a beautician. She thought she might want to open a beauty academy. Instead, she bought a 20 seat Italian Deli. She changed the menu to serve her Roasted Dungeoness Crab and her daughter-in-law, Helene's garlic noodles. Arguably, those two dishes alone brought the crowds and celebrities and launched a restaurant empire.

Thanh Long's success and the sucess of Crustacean San Francisco and Crustacean Beverly Hills brought the An family an induction into the Smithsonian Museum in 2007; credited for bringing Vietnamese cuisine to the U.S.

There are now five restaruants and an award winning catering company operating under the banner of the House of An. If there is any doubt her decision to buy a restaurant changed the path of those who followed her, consider this, all five of her granddaughters and her great grandson keep her legacy alive in the House of An restaurants.

Condolences to the whole An family but special heartfelt sentiments to my dear girlfriends, Catherine and Elizabeth and to her only son, Danny, who is called 'Papa' by all who know him.

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