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Tracy Frank, Published September 23 2010

Thai Orchid moves to mall

Business profile

Thai Orchid

Thai Orchid has new digs and some new customers.

The Moorhead ethnic-food restaurant moved on Sept. 10 from its First Avenue North location to the Moorhead Center Mall, in the 10,000-square-foot space formerly occupied by Country Kitchen.

Business has doubled since opening in the new space, said Cobb Nontula, Thai Orchid’s manager.

Part of it may be the novelty of opening in a new locale, he said. But the restaurant also lost a lot of business due to First Avenue North construction.

Construction started in June on a mill and overlay project to replace water mains, sidewalks, and curb and gutters from Seventh Street to 21st Street. The roadway stayed open, but temporary closures reduced traffic to one lane in each direction.

Thamrong “Keng” Dechawuth, who owns Thai Orchid with David Scheer, said if they hadn’t moved, they may have had to close.

The lunch crowd was cut in half, Nontula said.

“Even though we still had the Moorhead lunch crowd, I think we lost quite a bit of Fargo’s lunch crowd,” he said.

The new location seats 120 people, about the same as the old space, but it has a more open layout.

“When you walk in, it feels bigger, it feels grander,” Nontula said.

The menu is mostly the same. Some items were dropped because they weren’t popular and the restaurant added a few new options.

Dechawuth describes Thai Orchid as a traditional Thai restaurant with quality food at an affordable price.

Would-be diners were stopping by the new location before it opened, Dechawuth said, adding that the kitchen needed more work than expected, so opening took a little longer than planned.

Kristi Ulrich, Moorhead Center Mall manager, said it’s great to be able to offer shoppers a place to eat in addition to Vic’s Bar & Grill. She also said she’s noticed an increase in new people at the mall since Thai Orchid opened.

“When I had lunch there Monday, there were people that I had not seen before,” Ulrich said.

Thai Orchid first opened in 2005 in the former Hardee’s building at 900 1st Ave. N.

Nontula and the head chef, Sue Stamm, plan to become part owners in the business in the next few years, Dechawuth said.

Scheer and Dechawuth also own Leela Thai, Wasabi Sushi and Drunken Noodle restaurants in Fargo. They are opening a new restaurant in East Grand Forks, Minn., called Little Bangkok, which will serve Thai cuisine and sushi. That restaurant is planned to open this fall, Dechawuth said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Tracy Frank at (701) 241-5526