Hit Baton Rouge Thai Restaurant Thaihey Thaifood moves to NOLA
Just over a year after opening their successful Thaihey Thaifood restaurant in Baton Rouge, the couple Orawin “Nim” Yimchalam and Nathan Greene closed their shop on Lee Drive for a move to New Orleans, partly attracted by a first-class address in the French Quarter “Zu good to decline, ”says Greene.
The couple first shared the news of their move on Instagram in August, while also announcing their last service at the Baton Rouge restaurant. The aftermath was bittersweet, Greene tells Eater, saying the reception they received upon announcing their closure made them all the more appreciative of their Baton Rouge customers.
Still, the opportunity to move her business to the French Quarter address – 308 Decatur Street, where Cafe Envie’s second outpost used to be – was too good to pass up. “We were looking at the New Orleans idea of either moving or opening a second restaurant, so we kept an eye out,” says Greene. “We saw this ideal place that was just finished and we decided that there will be no better time than now.”
The couple is now in the room taking equipment deliveries and painting the interior in preparation for an opening in mid to late October. “Things are moving forward,” says Greene. Yimchalam is the chef at Thaihey who puts together the menu with modern Vietnamese dishes, a succinct selection of products including deep-fried frog legs marinated in red curry; Hang Waw soup or spicy and sour northeastern Thai oxtail soup; Tom Yum Boran noodle soup; Massaman Ribeye Curry; and pumpkin and chicken curry. There is also a separate vegan menu with starters, pasta, rice and curry dishes. Yimchalam is from Lopburi, Thailand, where her mother ran her own restaurant and Yimchalam had her own start in restaurants.
The couple first opened Thaihey Thaifood, their first restaurant at Baton Rouge’s White Star Market in January 2020, after selling groceries at a farmers market for a while. The food hall was short-lived and closed when the pandemic started in March 2020.Not long after that, in May 2020, Greene and Yimchalam opened with the help of a loyal client who was also a commercial broker, Thaihey Thaifood on Lee Drive.
“Fortunately, we got quite a stir in the market in that short time,” says Greene. “It really helped us to be up and running again quickly.”
While running Thaihey on Lee Drive, Greene said they had met a number of New Orleans restaurant owners who came for a visit, which he and Yimchalam then reciprocated – people they have been able to consult since then. “We’ve only been in business for such a short time, but we’ve built a small network and had some conversations about the facility.”
The couple are renting the space on Decatur Street, which will be called Thaihey Nola, and plan to stay there while it works. “A big part of the pull was when we looked around the surrounding blocks and realized that what we have is going to bring something very different to the area,” says Greene. “They also said the same thing when talking to other shopkeepers.”
“We’re a mom and pop shop, you know. This is such a good opportunity for our family, ”says Greene. “We can’t wait to get started.”
Thaihey Nola is expected to be open for lunch, happy hour, and dinner in mid to late October.