After 30 years and countless crispy pork spring rolls served, Northern Virginia’s Vietnamese standard-bearer Four Sisters will permanently close doors this weekend (8190 Strawberry Lane, Falls Church, Virginia).
Originally an occupant of nearby Vietnamese complex Eden Center, family-owned Four Sisters relocated to Merrifield in 2008 long before the surrounding Mosaic District arrived with a steady stream of restaurant and retail options.
The iconic, 150-seat destination for vermicelli lettuce wraps, papaya salads, and pho will shutter after service on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 14, which “seems appropriate for a restaurant built on the recipes of Thanh Tran, the matriarch of the Lai family,” writes Washington Post food writer Tim Carman, who broke the news on Wednesday, May 10.
Tran and her husband, Kim Lai, immigrated to the U.S. in 1981, and supported their six kids as food cart vendors until they ultimately found a home for Tran’s home-style Vietnamese cooking in 1993. The restaurant was originally called Huong Que — which translates to “taste of home” — during the first half of its lifespan.
They are “having such a hard time even now hearing the restaurant [is] closing. Their hearts are broken. But in their minds, they understand,” daughter Lieu Lai-Williams told Carman, who’s co-owned Four Sisters with her sister, Le Lai, since 2014.
Despite making it through the treacherous pandemic, Lieu and Le Lai have decided to shut down now for a variety of reasons, notes Carman. One was a potential rent spike as their 5,000-square-foot corner lease nears a renewal. Industry-wide problems like labor shortages and rising food costs were also factors, and Lieu also simply wanted to spend more time with her two kids at home.
“I feel like we have succeeded. We have made our mark. I’m ready for the next chapter, whatever that may be,” Lieu told Carman.
While the flagship is done, the Four Sisters story is not over yet in other pockets of Northern Virginia.
The oldest sister Ly, and her husband will continue to operate its fast-casual offshoot in Clarendon (Four Sisters Grill). And the youngest son, Thuan Lai, and his wife still run the 4 Sisters Asian Snack Bar they opened in Ashburn in 2018.
For a final taste in Merrifield, order online here or come by through closing day on Sunday.