The story behind who currently owns El Mansour, the legendary and cherished Moroccan restaurant in the Richmond, is a heartwarming one. Last week, I met with current owner Ken Pholisith. Ken has owned El Mansour since July 9th 2021 and almost inherited the store from his former boss. Ken grew up in the city and as a teenager was a busboy at El Mansour. “I was walking one day in the Presidio and I overheard this man talking in Thai about needing a busboy for his restaurant. I was so excited Jack spoke Thai like me, we immediately started connecting and we found out we were from the same town in Thailand as well! And that’s how I started working here”. Ken recounts. He worked at El Mansour until going to college because it was such an incredible working environment and owners at the time, Jack Tanverakhul and his wife Houda Rakib, created an atmosphere of community. “Jack became like a family friend,” Ken says. Then, 2020 came around and Jack became exhausted from dealing with the restaurant industry during a pandemic, so he asked Ken if he wanted to take over.
“I knew the ins and outs of the restaurant already and everyone here is like family to me. I also already had some restaurant experience from my family owning a restaurant on Balboa street when I was young - I thought about how special this place was to me and how important it was to the community around here.” explains Ken.
He chose to carry on the work that Jack and Rakib put into El Mansour. It’s clear when you walk into El Mansour, that someone has put a great deal of work into making the interior look comforting and ornate. Rakib took great pains to make the interior reflect her vision, traveling back and forth to her home country of Morocco to bring back ingredients, decorations, furniture.
The atmosphere at El Mansour is unlike any other. The colorful cushioned seats surrounded by decorated low tables give you an escape from the outside world. You can enjoy a delicious tagine or couscous as belly dancers move effortlessly through the space, inviting you to join in the fun. So come check out El Mansour on Clement and 33rd in the Richmond for an incredible experience!