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Interview with Pom Boobphachati

Thai native's skills, love of food translate at the table

Source: Portland Press Herald
Thursday, November 18, 2004

Rattanaphorn (Pom) Boobphachati is owner of Thai Taste in South Portland.
Staff photos by John Patriquin

Q: How did your business start?

A: After I earned my bachelor's degree in public relations at the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce in Bangkok, I came to the United States to study for a master's degree in hotel and restaurant management at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I. While I studied, I had a part-time job working as a waitress at a Thai restaurant in Boston. Upon my graduating in 2000, the owner of the Thai restaurant gave me the opportunity to open a Thai restaurant in Brunswick. I worked as the manager and waitress there for 1 1/2 years and got to know a lot of customers. When I decided to sell my part of the business to my partner, a couple of colleagues and I decided we would work together at a Thai restaurant at a different location.

Q: Why did you choose to locate your business in this area?

A: While working at the restaurant in Brunswick, I had regular customers who lived in Cape Elizabeth and had a house in Boothbay Harbor. They would stop along the way to have pad Thai and chicken red curry. They also mentioned that there was a Thai restaurant in South Portland that was very busy. About the time I decided to go out on my own, I learned that the Bangkok 9 was for sale. I bought this place in June 2002 because I was pretty sure I'd be the only Thai restaurant in the area, and my goal was to provide good service and use fresh ingredients in my food.

Q: How do you plan to grow your business?

A: Since I opened this restaurant, I've been told by my regular customers that I have a good reputation. My business comes from referrals, and I work hard to keep my customers satisfied. I hope to grow my business by selling different kinds of sauces that we serve here to other restaurants, maybe those that serve American or fusion food.

Q: Why did you choose this line of business?

A: I grew up in a family who enjoyed having good food. In Thailand, we would drive a long distance if we heard there was tasty food to be had. Whenever we traveled, we would ask the locals where we should eat, and we didn't mind if we had to wait in a long line. And of course, I like to cook, which is another reason to be in this business. I like to make people happy and for them to enjoy good food.

Q: Is there anything unique or significantly different about your business?

A: My restaurant relies on customer opinion and comments. I make every effort to make my customers happy at all times. I try to make sure that customers enjoy my authentic Thai food and friendly service. I try to keep an open mind and also make an effort to keep learning about what's going on in the food business. My dishes at the restaurant are what I cook at home and I use fresh ingredients. We're proud of our healthy, non-greasy food. It not only tastes good, but it looks good as well.

Q: How does your business fluctuate with the seasons?

A: In the winter, our customers are happy that we do delivery during bad weather. During our slower times, I teach cooking classes or take time off for vacation or to look for new ideas for my business. During holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, we often get busy because people celebrate with their families here instead of cooking at home.

Q: What are the challenges/advantages to running a small business or family business?

A: It's challenging to find and keep good staff at such a small restaurant like mine. But the advantages are that I can do most of the work myself, and my staff members mostly are willing to do hard work. I keep in mind that consistent quality and new experiences are important in the food business. My chef and I always have ideas to create new food, and we enjoy what we do. My customers often see me in the open kitchen or in the dining room. I'm lucky that I like what I do.

Know of a small business that would make an interesting profile? E-mail us at or contact News Clerk Betsy Ring McMahon at (207) 791-6307.