"Duc Loi" means 'ethical earnings' in Vietnamese, and it expresses the way that owners Howard and Amanda Ngo approach their business.
Howard and Amanda grew up together in the small town of Vinh Chau, at the southern tip of Vietnam. In 1979, they boarded a small boat with 400 other Vietnamese refugees, packed together sitting back-to-back, for six days with no food and no idea where they would land. Although the boat nearly capsized, they eventually landed on an Indonesian island, where they were accepted as refugees. After months of waiting, Amanda and her family were sponsored by an American in San Francisco, while Howard was sponsored in Way Cross, Georgia; he worked for a year to raise the money for a $97 bus ticket to reunite him with Amanda in San Francisco.
In 1987, Howard and Amanda opened the first Duc Loi market down the block from its current location. It was only 600 square feet, but after ten years, they bought a property on the corner of 18th and Mission, where they expanded to 4,000 square feet. After another 7 years of hard work, Howard and Amanda began a large scale renovation to the market, which was completed in 2009.