New Thai restaurant experiences overflow of business

By Gus Bode

Factoid:Restaurant hours are from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9p.m. Monday to Thursday; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. For more information call the restaurant at 618-457-6900.

JeTaime Rachatanvin started his first job when he was 13. He worked as a kitchen helper and a waiter in his parent’s restaurant, Thai Taste, which is located in his hometown of San Antonio.

At 25, Rachatanavin moved to Carbondale, where he decided to continue his family’s work. Now he is the proud owner of Thai Taste of Carbondale, which is located at 100 S. Illinois Ave.


Rachatanavin opened Carbondale’s newest Asian restaurant after tossing the idea around with his friends.

Rachatanavin and Evan Prieto, the acting manager, hired a staff of 12 and opened its doors in early December.

“The first night we must have served at least 300 customers,” Prieto said. “Everything was basically done by the seat of our pants.”

Rachatanavin said the unexpected stream of customers took him aback on its first day open for business.

“Half of me said, ‘Let’s do it!’ and the other half said ‘Oh, crap,'” Rachatanavin said.

Rachatanavin, who studied biology at the University of Texas in Austin, said he was aware of the turbulent past the building he is renting has had. The Hub Caf, Emperor’s Palace and McCleland’s Bistro are recent restaurants that have had short economic spans at its location.

But Rachatanavin and Prieto said they are optimistic that Thai Taste will be able to break the unsuccessful business trend.


“I haven’t been to all of the former restaurants, but Thai Taste I know is widely accepted among the people of Carbondale,” Prieto said.

Next month Rachatanavin said he is considering changing the weekend hours to reservations only as a way to shorten the time customers would have to wait to be seated.

Prieto said some of the staff members had no previous training in restaurants and had to learn how to operate the business in a limited amount of time. He calls their quick training “forged in fire” because of how little time they all had to prepare for the grand opening.

Head appetizer chef and self-proclaimed punk rocker Ray Martinez, 22, said he had been laid off from a Murphysboro construction company when he was asked by his friend Prieto to join the staff.

Martinez said he enjoys working with a group of people with similar interests and in the same age demographic.

“We spend so much time together, and I definitely consider them family,” Martinez said. “We all cook and eat together after shifts.”

Yet working with your closest friends has its drawbacks.

“It doesn’t work out if one of us wants to get off work to go out,” Martinez said. “If I ask for a day off, my friends have to pick it up.”

When designing the restaurant, Rachatanavin said he wanted the style to have a contemporary look rather than the ornate traditional red cloth and dark wood furnishings of other Thai restaurants.

Original artwork from Thailand hangs on some walls, and SIUC graduate student Bethany Benson made ceramic sugar-packet containers for the tables. Dillon Boyd, a senior studying art, decorated and designed the restaurant. Boyd chose a robin-egg blue color for the walls and used light-colored wood tables for an overall bright look.

While the restaurant has been in business for less than two months, the staff members said they are optimistic Carbondale will find a reason to dine there.

“I think the food speaks for itself,” Rachatanavin said. “The atmosphere is fresh, and the staff is great.”

Reporter Nicky Jacobs can be reached at [email protected]