Le Van Ba was a successful businessman in Vietnam when war forced his family to start over from scratch in a foreign country. Arriving in San Jose in 1980, Le and his children within three years had launched Lee\’s Sandwiches, a chain that now has more than 30 Vietnamese sandwich shops in California, plus locations in four other states. Le Van Ba, who died of cancer Tuesday at the age of 79, was the patriarch of a creative and industrious clan that includes his wife, Nguyen Thi Hanh, and their five sons and four daughters. The family landed in San Jose as refugees, with Le becoming the Ray Kroc of Vietnamese sandwiches by adapting the American fast-food restaurant principles of Kroc\’s McDonald\’s to the delicious meats, pates and spices of Vietnamese cuisine, all served on freshly baked French-style baguettes.
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