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Refugee from Vietnam has built restaurant empire

The owner of Jimmy’s Egg said work is his hobby
By Steve Gust, For The Oklahoman Published: June 15, 2014

The fall of South Vietnam in 1975 didn’t translate into the downfall of Loc Le. Thousands of customers of Jimmy’s Egg are grateful.

With a fresh start in the United States, Le eventually came to own, hone and expand a restaurant chain that has become well known for its breakfasts and lunches.

Le, who had been a businessman in South Vietnam, had nothing when he came to Oklahoma with his wife and four children in 1975. He was 36.

“I was starting with less than zero because I couldn’t speak any English,” he said.

A Catholic, he was sponsored to live in Oklahoma City by the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish.

Initially, he was an inspector for the Santa Fe Railroad. He also worked with Union Pacific in Omaha, Neb., for four years. He liked Nebraska so much that he has since started four Jimmy’s Egg restaurants in the Omaha area.

Becoming a restauranteur

In 1980, his family wanted to get into the restaurant business and set their sights on a lone Jimmy’s Egg eatery at NW 16th and May. It was owned by the namesake, Jim Newman. After it was purchased by the Le family, Loc soon realized the project was going to need his full attention.

He gave it the same determination he gave his previous interests in Vietnam, which included a canned food company and real estate holdings. He had dealings with the government of South Vietnam. When communist North Vietnamese forces made their push into the south, Le knew it was time to leave or face a possible internment camp.

He wasn’t exactly a boat person, because he owned a big fishing vessel that held about 30 members of his family. He escaped. All of his money and assets didn’t.

“I lost everything,” he said.

Le isn’t the kind of guy who lives in the past. He threw his energy into the restaurant business. No detail is too small.

Perfect pancakes

It took him and his family months to decide on what constituted the perfect pancake. Once they came up with the formula, every restaurant and every pancake would meet that standard.

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