For Chatree and Shannon Soisoongnoen, opening their very own Thai restaurant was an eight year long process filled with trials, speedbumps 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 in his wife Shannon’s years of fine dining service experience.
At this point, Soisoongnoen seemingly had all the components he needed to open Chatthai Bistro, yet one final hurdle had to be overcome before his dream could become reality. 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.
After opening, Chatthai Bistro’s first order of business was to emphasize food quality. All food is fresh and never frozen at Chatthai Bistro. This practice, while professional in approach, was also born out of necessity, for the 1200 square foot venue does not have a freezer.
“Our food is some of the freshest in town,” said Soisoongnoen. “My husband gets up every morning, shops in Las Vegas, and drives back before the restaurant opens.” Soisoongnoen also notes that Chatthai bistro makes its own sausage, which is a time intensive task due to the fact that a funnel is used instead of a modern, high-speed machine.
“That’s how my mother in law did it for her own family, and that’s how we do it for Pahrump,” said Soisoongnoen. “It’s definitely a labor of love.” Aside from great food quality, Chatthai Bistro also prides itself in having stellar service. According to Soisoongnoen, not a single employee had serving experience before working at Chatthai Bistro.
“We’ve been so blessed with wonderful employees. We just have the best staff,” said Soisoongnoen. “We’re starting to get wonderful comments about how great the servers are.” 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.”