Simply Thai has opened at 122 E. Main St. in Jamestown.
It opened in a former office space across from Southern Roots restaurant. “It’s a great location. It’s a great town,” said Matt “Jit” Lothakoun. Lothakoun opened the restaurant with his sister Vonne Keobouala. It is their second location.
The two opened Simply Thai at 2041 Timberline Station Drive in Elon eight years ago.
It’s been a long road for the two Laotian Americans since they came from Laos with their parents, three siblings and their grandmother in the early 1980s when thousands fled the war-ravaged countries of Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.
Lothakoun and Keobouala’s family ended up in California, where they operated a noodle shop.
The family eventually moved to North Carolina and opened a Thai takeout restaurant in Fayetteville.
After about a year of operating the Fayetteville restaurant, they opened a finer-dining restaurant in Elon serving Thai and Laotian food.
The Jamestown menu echoes the Elon restaurant with sushi... “Laotian food is more herbal, with lemon grass, cilantro and basil,” Keobouala said. “It has a spiciness, but with an herbal kick.”
Many Thai dishes are of Laotian descent. The two countries share a border and cultures.
A Lao food movement, led by chef Seng Luangrath of Washington seeks to highlight the traditional dishes and flavors of Laos. Keobouala and Lothakoun are friends of Seng’s. They plan to have her as a guest for a grand opening of the restaurant early in the new year. The date is yet to be announced.
“You can find Laos dishes on many Thai menus,” Keobouala said. “I want to be able to be a part of a Lao food movement.”
A full bar with signature cocktails, extensive wine list and imported and locally produced beer is offered. The Jamestown restaurant, with its relaxed and rustic-modern atmosphere, is about half the size of the Elon restaurant. It seats about 50. The restaurant seats an additional 20 outside during good weather.
Most of the work at both restaurants was done by Lothakoun, a trained engineer who is also a contractor. Plans are to expand the Jamestown restaurant by adding an event center in a former fitness club next door.
Link to the full News & Record article.