The Thai House Restaurant is truly a family business. All of its food is prepared and served by the Bunniran family. The food is prepared from scratch using recipes brought over by the family from Thailand. And, practically all customers are called by their first name, and many come back as much for the Bunnirans’ warmth and good humor as they are for the menu.
“When customers come in, I know most of their names, their children — it’s like a big family,” said matriarch Buranee Bunniran, affectionately called “Tim” by patrons and friends.
Home is where…
The Bunnirans opened the Thai House in 1992 in its current location on Interstate 55 South at the McDowell Road exit in Jackson. The family consists of Tim, husband/father Prawat (“Watt”), daughter Suvapun (“Su”) and sons Chawanpon (“Charles) and Sakonsak (“Toon”). The family is close-knit and always smiling, which is more remarkable considering the workload each family member takes on to serve its customers daily.
“I’m very proud of my children,” Tim said. “They’re very respectful, and work hard. When they were out of school, they worked here. When they were in school, they came here and worked when they got out. I ask them to do something, and they just do it.”
Patrons enjoy the Bunnirans’ hospitality and graciousness over dishes that have earned “Best Asian Restaurant” in the metro Jackson area by the Jackson Free Press multiple times.
Some of customers’ favorite dishes include tom kha, a coconut milk soup seasoned with lemon grass, lime juice and other ingredients, and red curry, a choice of meat seasoned with red curry, coconut milk, straw mushrooms, bamboo shoots, peas and carrots. Paht thai is another meat choice that is seasoned with peanuts, and there is plaa sam ros, fresh-fried Mississippi catfish served on a bed of cabbage and covered in a special house sauce.
Atmosphere adds to the dining experience. The restaurant features beautifully carved chairs and tables depicting woodland scenes from Thailand replete with elephants and other exotic wildlife.
Thai House serves both lunch and dinner, with a buffet offered during the former.
On the move
The unique furnishings and family recipes will soon be loaded up and transported to the new Thai House. It is a move a long time in the making.
Tim said over the years, customers asked when the family was going to move to a larger facility. “I told them, ‘I got three kids in college. I can’t afford to move,” she said with a laugh.
Now, her sons and daughter have completed their studies. And, in March, the Bunnirans closed on the acquisition of the former Moe’s Southwest Grill locale on Old Square Road just off the I-55 North Frontage Road in North Jackson. At press time, the interior had been gutted and sawdust was flying as the Bunnirans pushed to get the new eatery complete. Their target date for opening is sometime in May.
The new facility will offer a significant larger space, which means for the first time the Bunnirans will have to hire outside the family. Su and Charles are pursuing careers in their chosen fields, pharmacy and engineering, respectively. But, Toon is staying on at the restaurant.
Toon said he learned the virtues of hard work by watching his parents over the years. And, the joy they get from forging relationships with their customers is a key to why he decided to remain and help lead Thai House into the next chapter of its history.
The family is putting in long hours between the current locale and the new facility. But, Tim said she felt they were living the American dream, and is excited about the future possibilities and potential.
“I started this restaurant because Jackson didn’t have a Thai restaurant, and I just wanted to represent my country,” she said. “I’m very proud.”
Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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