Wanalee’s father—the family’s sole provider—worked three jobs to put food on the table. Even then, Wanalee said a snack in between meals was something to be coveted.
“I told myself, ‘One day I will be able to eat anything I want, buy anything I want,’” Wanalee said.
Following her father’s advice, Wanalee earned a degree in Thailand and eventually moved to America in 2012.
In November, Wanalee, along with her husband, Adam Gorelick—a 12th-year geometry teacher at Spring ISD—opened Charm Thai Bistro in Spring, marking the duo’s second eatery in the last five years.
“We thought there was a hole in the area of what I think is good-tasting Thai food,” Adam said. “People will drive for good Thai food since there aren’t any good options on the north side of Houston.”
According to Wanalee, some of the more popular items the bistro offers include pad Thai, Thai papaya salad, kai soi and a number of curries. However, she noted the menu also includes a variety of appetizers, soups and desserts, such as dumplings and Thai tea creme brulee.
Wanalee added a lot of the ingredients used to cook are shipped directly from Thailand, which she said gives the restaurant’s food a more authentic taste.
While the pair was initially hesitant to open a restaurant in the midst of a global pandemic, Adam said it was a gamble they were willing to take.
"The biggest thing was if we shut down again or if it fails, the lease that you’re committing to and everything [still exists],” Adam said. “[But] even in the shutdown, people were still getting takeout.”
That bet, Adam said, paid off when the restaurant was required to open at 50% capacity.
“Our sales have almost tripled since we first opened,” he said.
Later this year, the couple plans on opening their third establishment, Noe’s Café, which will be located just down the street.
Reflecting on her childhood, Wanalee said hard work and dedication have been instrumental in helping her achieve her goals.
“I came to America because it is the land of opportunity,” Wanalee said. “If you don’t take [that opportunity], somebody else will.”
Charm Thai Bistro
2203 Spring Stuebner Road, Ste. 100, Spring
Hours: Sun.-Thu. 11 a.m.-3 p.m., 4:30-9 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-3 p.m., 4:30-9:30 p.m.