by CLAUDIA BRADLEY
After two years of running a successful restaurant from of the Odd Fellows Hall kitchen, the Thai Sisters Café is re-opening in a larger space on Tuesday, Jan. 22.
The restaurant is opening at the site previously known as Mom’s TLC Diner across from Key Bank in Eastsound. “It will give us a lot more space and allow us to be open five days a week,” says co-owner Nayika Hirschman. Her sister Nuna Malaspina says, “We will be serving our same, familiar menu plus some specials from time to time.” The sisters will continue to offer a take-out menu as well.
The sisters have spent the last four weeks in Thailand visiting family and friends and have returned with new decorations including flower-string garlands, lotus flower ornaments and Thai bamboo mats. The inside of the restaurant was fully remodeled and painted during the sisters’ absence. “Now, all we need to do is redecorate and order our fresh ingredients and we’ll be ready for opening day,” said Nayika.
“I’m so excited for them to open the new restaurant,” said friend, waitress and “Jane of all trades,” Nancy Schmidt. “They have worked really hard for this.”
Nayika originally came to Orcas Island in 2001 to work as a nanny for John and Lydia Miller. Nuna joined her a few years later. “We are indebted to the Millers for suggesting that we open a cafė at the Odd Fellows to see if we could make a go of it,” said Nayika. “Lydia even worked in the kitchen for awhile.”
Nuna says, “Jay Kimball, at the Odd Fellows Hall, gave us wonderful support and encouragement. Renting the Odd Fellows kitchen helped us focus on creating healthy, affordable food without the financial risk of starting a big restaurant.”
Nuna’s husband Mike Malaspina and father-in-law “Papa” Mike Malaspina, Sr. have been invaluable in helping the sisters with many of the logistics of setting up the new restaurant, such as lease agreements, remodeling and bridging the language barrier. “‘Papa Mike’ has made many trips to Seattle to bring back ingredients and materials and Nuna’s husband Mike is everywhere behind the scenes for us,” said Nayika.
“There is a Buddhist saying we have in Thailand,” said the sisters. “A generous heart, kind speech and a life of service and compassion are things which renew humanity.” “This has been our experience of the Orcas community,” they said.
The Thai Sisters Cafė will be open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. beginning Jan. 22. Their new take-out phone number is 376-3993.