Supanee Gilbert, co-owner of Sawatdee Thai restaurant in Plattsburgh, said community support of her restaurant has made her proud to raise a family in Plattsburgh.
PLATTSBURGH — Growing up in Thailand’s Nakhon Pathom province, Plattsburgh was probably the last place Supanee Gilbert thought she’d end up.
But now Gilbert, who co-owns the Sawatdee Thai restaurant in downtown Plattsburgh with Samitra Nelson, said she’s never been happier.
Gilbert moved to San Francisco in 1998 to pursue an education in fashion design, and met her future husband, William, there.
From there, the couple moved to Southern California and began planning their future.
Since his family lived in Barre, Vermont, William wanted to relocate to the Northeast.
“I’m from Thailand, a very warm country,” Gilbert said. “I heard it’s cold for six months in Vermont and I thought, ‘oh no, no, no.’”
Gilbert found more than a long winter awaiting her in the North Country, though.
“After you are used to living in a big city, this area is relaxed,” Gilbert said. “I adjusted to the weather, and now I love the four seasons.”
These days, Gilbert and her husband are happy they can raise their two boys in a safe community.
“In California, I always heard about people doing bad things,” Gilbert said. “Out there, your child has to be next to you all the time. I came here, and now I feel more relaxed about raising a child.”
Even though Gilbert left some of the risks of California behind, she took a new risk when her business partner suggested opening a Thai restaurant in Plattsburgh.
To their knowledge, the small city had never seen anything like it, and they both wondered how people would respond.
There was only one way to find out — the Gilberts moved to Plattsburgh and Supanee and her partner opened Sawatdee.
That was four years ago this August, and Gilbert said the business is still doing well.
“It’s a little bit hard to introduce something people don’t know,” Gilbert said. “People think Thai and they think spicy, but it doesn’t have to be that way.”
Gilbert said that most of the dishes at Sawatdee are authentic Thai recipes, and that they can be made to cater to varying tolerances for heat.
Curry is an exception, though.
“Curry has to be spicy because curry paste is spicy,” Gilbert said. “If it isn’t spicy, it isn’t curry. It’s something else.”
The cooks at Sawatdee rely on fresh meats and vegetables for their dishes. Once a vegetable has sat for a couple days it starts to look limp, which is easy to see in a stir-fry dish.
“We buy local vegetables from Prays almost every day,” Gilbert said. “We don’t get big shipments because it helps keep everything fresh.”
As long as people continue to patronize Sawatdee, Gilbert said she will be happy to continue serving them authentic Thai food.
“I have to thank the community for its support,” Gilbert said. “We are happy to offer another healthy choice downtown.”