Loyal customers and a quick pivot helped Plano restaurant Taste of Thai 'tread water' during pandemic

Nina Kuvijitjaru and her husband, Michael Lentini, own and operate the Plano restaurant Taste of Thai. (Courtesy Taste of Thai)
Nina Kuvijitjaru and her husband, Michael Lentini, own and operate the Plano restaurant Taste of Thai. (Courtesy Taste of Thai)

Nina Kuvijitjaru and her husband, Michael Lentini, own and operate the Plano restaurant Taste of Thai. (Courtesy Taste of Thai)

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The Tom Kha Soup Hotpot includes coconut milk soup with lemon grass, galangal, fresh mushroom, onion, tomato and lime juice. (Courtesy Taste of Thai)
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Drunken Noodles with Beef ($12.95) is a dish made with flat noodles and egg, onion, cabbage, carrot, fresh basil and bell peppers in a Thai chili sauce. (Courtesy Taste of Thai)
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Special Crispy Rolls ($8.95) feature crispy rice paper stuffed with ground chicken, glass noodles, sprouts, carrots, celery and herbs. The dish is served with homemade chili-honey sauce. (Courtesy Taste of Thai)
Across Plano, Michael Lentini’s friends who own restaurants have been hit hard financially by the pandemic. Some have reached revenue levels that are 40% or further below their pre-coronavirus levels, he said.

But due to a combination of having the right product, loyal customers and the ability to pivot quickly, Lentini’s Plano restaurant, Taste of Thai, is down only 25% since fears of the virus prompted more residents to stay at home and led governments to restrict dine-in activity.

As a result, Taste of Thai has been able to tread water, he said.

“Our weekend takeout [orders] alone have been paying the rent, paying the staff and paying the bills,” Lentini said. “We’ve been really tremendously lucky.”

Lentini owns the restaurant with his wife, Nina Kuvijitjaru, who grew up in Thailand and whose authentic recipes are featured throughout the restaurant’s menu.


The restaurant had long incorporated fine-dining concepts into its experience, which meant it was oriented largely around a dine-in crowd.

But when the restaurant was required to close in March, the couple had to immediately recenter the whole concept of the restaurant around takeout, Lentini said.

They soon found that on weekdays, customers were typically only coming in for takeout in the late afternoon and the evenings. They also saw very little business on Mondays and Tuesdays. They adjusted their hours in response to the new realities.

The couple also increased their focus on delivery by partnering with multiple delivery services to get their food out to more people. Even though these services take a substantial cut of each transaction, Lentini said, the exposure allows Taste of Thai to reach more people.

Taste of Thai

3205 Alma Drive, Ste. 401, Plano

469-786-0202

www.tasteofthaiplano.com

Hours: Wed.-Fri. 3-9 p.m., Sat.-Sun. noon-9 p.m., closed Mon.-Tue.
By Daniel Houston
Daniel Houston covers city government, transportation, business and education for Community Impact Newspaper in Lewisville, Flower Mound and Highland Village. A Fort Worth native and Baylor University graduate, Daniel reported previously for The Associated Press in Oklahoma City and The Dallas Morning News.


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