TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) – After decades of service at its Tempe Plaza location, The Siamese Cat Thai Restaurant is closing its doors. Along with another plaza tenant, the restaurant tells Arizona’s Family the plaza will be converted into an apartment complex.
When the restaurant first opened 35 years ago, the Loop 101 highway right next to it didn’t even exist. But as Tempe has kept growing, restaurants like the Siamese Cat have often taken a backseat. And regulars are sad they won’t have the chance to eat at one of their favorite places.
The people are lovely,” Tempe resident Peggy Magliocco said. “The food is terrific.”
“It’s the only Thai restaurant we go to here,” fellow Tempe resident Julie Schaible added.
When owner Kasem Imsuchart came to Arizona from Thailand, his mission was to give those in Tempe a chance to eat foods he grew up eating.
“Pad Thai, Tom Yam,” Imsuchart said. “I know my customers because I feel comfortable.”
But about six months ago, Imsuchart and another Plaza tenant were told the Tempe Plaza was turning into new apartments. According to the City of Tempe records, the plan is still being reviewed for a building permit.
“Somehow it happened!”, Imsuchart said.
The fact that it did isn’t much of a surprise to Arizona Property Management and Investment’s Payam Raouf. “For two-bedroom apartments, there’s not that many homes and apartments,” Raouf said. “Only 60 left in Tempe for rent.”
Raouf says the rental shortage is an issue across Arizona, but it gets magnified in a city like Tempe that has so many colleges nearby at Arizona State.
“There’s not enough rentals, and the students don’t know where to go,” Raouf said. “So they need this extra room, they need to take the pressure off this market somehow with more apartments and more buildings. So that the younger generation can move into these.”
Raouf recommends restaurants like the Siamese Cat look for property next to other small local businesses. And Imsuchart says he’s open to any and all potential opportunities.
Many Americans are shopping small Saturday to support mom-and-pop clothing, toy, furniture, sporting goods, hardware and electronics’ stores.
“I just hope that I find a new location soon,” Imsuchart said. “More traffic, so people can see me.”
Wherever that location is, he’ll have some customers ready to eat.
“Even though we had Thai food last night, we’re having Thai food again tonight,” Schaible said.
“There’s some stuff here that you just don’t see on other menus when we try it,” Magliocco added. “But it’s the people; it’s the people that brought us back.”
As for what’s next for Imsuchart, he plans on taking a little break before looking for that next location. If you have any ideas of a good location for him to look at, please reach out to him directly at [email protected].
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