From Dine In to Takeout: Staying Connected With Thai Dee Restaurant

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From Dine In to Takeout: Staying Connected With Thai Dee Restaurant

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For my friends and I, Thai Dee is our most cherished gathering spot. It is a local San Antonio restaurant that is tucked away in a small building next to a convenience store. The restaurant is centrally located and 15 minutes away from where we all live and work. Thai Dee is the community dining room for my family and friends. We celebrate all our special occasions here in addition to frequenting the restaurant on a weekly basis. It is both a treat and a part of our daily lives to eat at Thai Dee as it is for hundreds of other customers. These last few months have felt strange not being able to eat inside their restaurant.

The pandemic hit Thai Dee hard at first. In March they had to lay off all their waitstaff and close their busy dining room. I was laid off from my full-time job too, but I continued to support them with the little money I earned from my part-time job. I turned my weekly dine-in visits to takeout orders. I did my best to support them, but instead I found that they wanted to support me.

The family who owns the restaurant has always treated me like a member of their family. When they found out that I had been laid off, the owner sweetly yet sternly told me not to leave them tips anymore. She advised me to save up all the money I had and assured me that they were okay. She would not process any tips I tried to leave on my card. Her son then told me that if I ever got to a point where I was hungry and had no money that I should call him. He would never let me go hungry. I thanked them and started crying as soon as I exited the building. I felt so loved and cared for in that moment. When I opened my bag of food, I found a complimentary order of mango and sweet sticky rice—my favorite dessert. They have since done this for me several times. Back in March I didn’t know if I would be able to return to my job, or if the company was just going to fold. I never shared these anxieties with them, and yet they helped ease them with their kind gestures.

The closure of Thai Dee’s dining room saw business slow down at first. When this happened, I sent a text to my friends who immediately went and ordered food. My friends and other regular customers are now back in the habit of ordering Thai Dee’s on a regular basis. Thai Dee has many other loyal customers who love the restaurant and family as much as I do. The walls are adorned with Christmas cards, postcards, and photographs of newborn babies all given to them by devoted patrons. Even former San Antonio Spur, Sean Elliot, has several photos with the Thai Dee crew on the wall.

For myself and other regulars, not a week goes by where I don’t go to Thai Dee. My visits give me a sense of normalcy. Even though I miss the social gathering space their dining room provided, I still get to eat the best Thai food in San Antonio and check in with my dear friends who own the restaurant. If I did not have regular access to them my pandemic experience would be miserable. Thai Dee is an icon of San Antonio and they have helped me through this time more than they know. Although Covid-19 disrupted my dining experience, it only strengthened my patronage and bond with the Thai Dee family.

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#CoverYourFangs>Keeping in Touch

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