Marketplace: Thai So Good restaurant brings taste of Thailand to town
February 26, 2019
Last year, Apinan Sriboran was talking with four of his friends when one of them mentioned the idea of starting a restaurant. Sriboran laughed, thinking it was a joke. But now, he is a co-owner of a budding Thai restaurant in Kimball Junction.
Thai So Good, which opened three months ago, is a piece of Thailand in Park City. It serves traditional Thai food in a cozy room covered with ornate decorations from the Southeast Asian country. The head chef, who moved to Utah one month ago, is from Thailand, as is Sriboran and two of the co-founders. The fourth friend is from Vietnam.
Sriboran emigrated from Thailand with his mother in 2010. They joined Sriboran's father, who was already living in Utah.
Sriboran found work as a dishwasher at a Thai restaurant in Salt Lake City, learning English along the way. He progressed to become a server at the restaurant, then he earned his commercial driver's license so he could work as a semi-truck driver. But driving a truck around the country meant he was away from his family for long periods of time.
The four of us, we sit here and we talk and we cry. We are so proud,” Apinan Sriboran Thai So Good
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Sriboran left the job and was searching for another opportunity when his friends brought up the idea of a restaurant.
"I was thinking we were not going to be serious about opening up the restaurant, but after we sat down and we talked a couple times we were like 'OK, let's go find a location and do it,'" he said.
Sriboran said he and his friends first considered opening a restaurant in Salt Lake City because they all live in the valley. Plus, one of his friends already owned a Thai restaurant in Salt Lake called Ekamai Thai Sugarhouse.
But after they began to search for a location, they realized the city might be oversaturated with Thai food offerings. So, they explored options up the canyon.
Park City seemed promising because there were few other Thai restaurants in the area, Sriboran said. It did not take long for him to stumble upon an open location, too.
They moved into a space that was previously occupied by Molly Blooms restaurant and pub.
Then the four co-owners got to work painting the walls and building some of the furniture themselves. They imported decorations from Thailand and crafted a menu, borrowing menu items from the Ekamai Thai restaurant.
Then, without a sign outside the building, they opened Thai So Good. Sriboran said he and his co-owners, all of whom are in their late 20s, are learning as they go. The new Thai chef is still working on a final menu for the restaurant.
Sriboran said he quickly figured out how difficult it is to hire workers in Park City, and how hard it can be for employees who live in Salt Lake City to get up the canyon when it is snowing.
The lack of employees has caused stress for Sriboran. He said it has also been difficult to work with friends who have different ideas about how things should run. The team quickly learned the importance of sitting down and talking through the restaurant's problems together.
It has been a lot of work, but Sriboran said after they close the restaurant for the night and the employees sit down together to eat the food from their home country, he feels like they are doing something right.
And when he and his co-owners think about how far they have come in just a few months, they are almost speechless, Sriboran said.
"The four of us, we sit here and we talk and we cry. We are so proud," he said.
Sriboran said he hopes to renovate and expand the space sometime in the next couple years. He said the restaurant is expected to remain open year-round.
Thai So Good
1764 Uinta Way Unit D-1