In 2010, best friends and co-owners Noi Owens, Nart Kemaleelakul and Mam Hubbard made their lifelong dream a reality by opening their own restaurant, IM Thai Cusine, located in the Sunset Valley Homestead Shopping Center.
Owens grew up in Thailand where she learned to cook traditional Thai dishes, such as green papaya salad and green curry. When she came to Austin in 2000 with her husband, Chris, and son Bee, she began working in the restaurant industry as a way to monetize her passion for cooking and also as a means to practice her English.
Her first job was working in the kitchen and as a waitress at Thai Tara in downtown Austin, where she met Kemaleelakul and Hubbard. When the restaurant shut down in 2010, Owens, Kemaleelakul and Hubbard decided to pursue a longtime goal and open their own Thai eatery. Owens said opening IM Thai Cusine has allowed her to continue to cook and meet new people.
“I love to cook,” Owens said. “I also like that I get to meet different people every day. Every day it’s something new.”
Four years after opening in Southwest Austin, in 2014 a second IM Thai Cuisine location opened in Buda. Both locations are run by the same owners with the help of Bee and Chris.
“I help with the restaurant a lot,” Bee said. “I get to practice both [Thai and English], and I like helping out my mom.”
“Im” meaning satisfied or full in Thai, is what the owners hope to offer their customers.
The restaurant’s menu includes classic Thai dishes, such as green curry and pad thai. Owens said the use of fresh ingredients is what separates IM Thai from other Thai restaurants.
“We offer a happy medium with our fresh ingredients and original dishes, and people come back for that,” Owens said.
The owners said they hope to improve the Southwest location by offering delivery services to the surrounding area and by expanding the menu.
IM Thai Cuisine
5207 Brodie Lane, Ste. 200, Sunset Valley
Hours: Sun.-Thu. 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-10 p.m.