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A walk through Thailand in every dish

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Food in boats in Thailand

For Chatree and Shannon Soisoongnoen, opening their very own Thai restaurant was an eight year long process filled with trials, speed bumps and successes.

It all began when Chatree Soisoongnoen moved to the United States from Thailand at the age of 13. When he eventually went into the navy, Soisoongnoen found himself missing one thing above all else: his mother’s cooking. While travelling abroad, he tried to fill this void by visiting various Thai restaurants, but none quite matched up with his mother’s authentic recipes. This experience is what sparked Soisoongnoen to want to open his own restaurant when he returned home to Pahrump in 2006.

Initially, Soisoongnoen’s mother was completely against the idea of opening a restaurant. This created a stalemate, for in order to open the quality restaurant he had in mind, Soisoongnoen needed his mother’s recipes as well as her expertise in the kitchen. Soisoongnoen’s mother finally relented in July of 2013, and Chatthai Bistro was born. Soisoongnoen also had another powerful asset, his wife Shannon’s years of fine dining service experience.

Acquiring a business loan is never easy, and opening your first business makes it that much more challenging of a process. That’s where the Nevada Small Business Development Center stepped in. Al Parker, a business counselor for the Nevada SBDC, provided guidance to help Shannon Soisoongnoen write a business plan and subsequently acquire a business loan. “Al Parker was amazing,” said Soisoongnoen. “He was always very kind, helpful and smart.”

With Parker’s assistance, Soisoongnoen, who was pregnant and working a full-time job, was able to successfully finish Chatthai Bistro’s business plan and acquire the loan needed in order to open the restaurant in January of 2015.

Being her own boss is another factor Soisoongnoen emphasized as important to Chatthai Bistro’s success. She noted that in large restaurants or casinos, higher-ups never interact with customers or employees yet make decisions that affect them nonetheless. “We’re small enough that we can just talk to our employees,” said Soisoongnoen.

Soisoongnoen also offered advice to anyone looking to open a small business in the future. “Be patient,” said Soisoongnoen. “Take time to develop your business plan. Have systems for everything and don’t fly by the seat of your pants. There are things that we still learn every single day.”