A grilled barbecue chicken banh mi at the Rolling Spring Roll...

A grilled barbecue chicken banh mi at the Rolling Spring Roll in Commack. Credit: Newsday/Erica Marcus

On Sunday, The Rolling Spring Roll in Farmingdale served its last Vietnamese spring roll. Owner Joe Bui, who operates sister locations in Syosset and Commack, said that running three restaurants was “just too much stress.”

It’s a question of allocation of resources, he explained. “It’s hard to staff three restaurants, hard to keep an eye on quality control. When we opened Commack last year, we couldn’t find any new workers — it was just a matter of shuffling the workers we already had.”

Bui is a transformative figure on the local dining scene. In 2012 he gave up a career in finance to open a food truck, The Rolling Spring Roll, parked alongside Spagnoli Road in Bethpage. At that time, there were no Vietnamese spring rolls on Long Island, no translucent summer rolls, no banh mi sandwiches overfilled with meat, herbs and pickled carrots and daikon radishes.

The truck was a sensation, and a year later Bui opened an eatery of the same name in Farmingdale that expanded on the menu, adding pho (rice noodles in broth), bun (rice noodle bowls) and com (rice bowls). In 2016, a larger restaurant — with a larger kitchen — opened in Syosset and it delved further into the glories of the Vietnamese kitchen with such specialties as bo luc lac (“shaking beef”) and banh xeo (a rice-flour crepe filled with pork and shrimp).

Joe Bui, owner of The Rolling Spring Roll in Commack.

Joe Bui, owner of The Rolling Spring Roll in Commack. Credit: Newsday/Erica Marcus

In 2018, he signed the lease on what was to be the third location of his Vietnamese restaurant, The Rolling Spring Roll, in Commack. “I figured it would take me three to six months to open,” he said. It took five years.

The decision to close his original Rolling Spring Roll wasn’t an easy one but, he said, Syosset is the most profitable location and Commack “has yet to reach its potential. There are still a lot of people in Commack, Huntington and Smithtown who don’t know we are here.” The Commack store is conveniently located in a shopping center on Jericho Turnpike — but it’s the shopping center just east of the busier one with Trader Joe’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods, and the small sign is hard to see from the road.

Bui is grateful that he’s been able to introduce so many Long Islanders to Vietnamese food, but believes that there are many more who haven’t yet had the pleasure. “We’re not going anywhere,” he declared. “We’re going to keep chopping the tree until it falls.”

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