Amy Yotngao upholds her uncle's tradition of Thai cuisine

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Amy Yotngao and her family at Srisiamchai Thai Restaurant in downtown Gresham. From left, cousin Oak Boonsopa, mother Wana Souvannarath, Amy and husband Dean Roadjanahasadin.

When Amy Yotngao moved to East County from Thailand four years ago, falling into the family business wasn’t so much about tradition as learning English.

Her uncle, Joe Boonyanuraksa, owner of what was then called Srivichai, in downtown Gresham, “pushed” his niece to serve customers so she would learn the language. Shortly after, Joe returned to the family’s homeland, leaving Amy to run the business.

A spunky brunette who smiles easily, 33-year-old Amy was born with restaurant DNA. She takes customer satisfaction seriously, not only striving to make guests feel welcome, but also ensuring they leave well fed.

Srisiamchai is a family operation, with Amy’s husband, cousin and mother either serving authentic Thai dishes or preparing them. But regular customers see Amy as more than just the front-person for a small restaurant.

“If you have a bad day or you’re depressed, all you have to do is go see Amy,” said Gil Hanley, a Gresham resident, who enjoys eating at the restaurant with his wife, Barbara. “If there’s something on the menu you don’t understand, she takes the time to explain it to you. She’s wonderful.”

How did you enter the food service industry, and what sets Srisiamchai apart from other Thai restaurants?

“When I was young, my parents owned a restaurant in Bangkok. I worked there, so I grew up in a restaurant. My mom likes to make the taste for the customer. She wants to keep the food Thai-style, but she can adjust the amount of seasoning if the customer wants it more or less hot. Every morning, we go to the market to buy fresh vegetables and meat. We make every dish for the customer.” by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Amys mother, Wana, displays a plate of her Srisiamchai Golden Noodles.

The restaurant used to have a different name. Why was it changed?

“When my uncle was here, the Thai name (Srivichai) meant ‘happy’ because he was a happy guy. We changed it to Srisiamchai three years ago because I wanted it to mean ‘happy and lucky.’”

Running a business is stressful. What moitivates you to come to work each day?

“I wake up every day with happy thoughts. It’s a new day for my life. I like to talk to the customers and serve outside. Talking to customers and being at work is good and makes my life happy.”

As the face of your family’s business, what is most important to you?

“I don’t want to say ‘No’ to a customer. If they come in a little early, I say ‘Welcome’ because I know they’re hungry. They wouldn’t come in if they weren’t hungry. The keys to the restaurant are the taste of the food, serving the food and making it fresh.”

Srisiamchai Thai Restaurant

229 N. Main Ave., Gresham


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