Pad Thai anyone?
A Mighty Thai restaurant opened in Manzanita January 29th. It’s the one and only Thai restaurant in the area. According to co-owner Joel Bernhard, opening night they were slammed with customers and the stream of Thai food lovers keep coming back.
By Jennifer Greer
Bernhard and his marriage partner Joe Khongkhar Bongkhamsao, chef of A Mighty Thai, moved to Manzanita a year and a half ago. “We were disappointed that we couldn’t find Thai food. We repeatedly drove to Portland.”
The couples desire for Thai food sparked an interest in opening they’re own restaurant. Chef Khongkhar Bongkhamsao is from Laos where he took cooking classes and obtained a bachelors degree in math and English. The restaurant has become a family venture. His sister owns Chok Dee, a food cart in Portland, where Joe began cooking in America two years ago. She helped put together the restaurants menu. His uncle, Daniel, is A Mighty Thai’s manager. In Thailand, Daniel was the restaurant manager of Le Meridien, a posh resort.
“I love to cook,” Khongkhar Bongkhamsao said. “My mother is from Laos and my father is from Thailand.” So he has influences from both cultures. His early years were spent in Thailand and later the family moved to Laos. “We have to cook for people here.”
The couple received help from friends to redesign the old Terra Cotta restaurant. Bernhard said, “My buddies helped build the bar. Other people in the community helped as well. All my staff have been my friends for like ten years. It was just perfect timing.”
Bernhard also co-owns the Sleepy Monk Coffee Shop in Cannon Beach. He works days at the coffee shop and evenings at A Mighty Thai. His employees say even with all his hard work he’s pleasant to work for. Kathleen Dunne praised her boss. “Joel is so positive and such a great personality. I love him. I’ve worked in a lot of restaurants. It’s nice to have someone so supportive. It’s like family here.”
“We’re learning as we go and we get faster every day,” Bernhard said. “We want people to have an awesome experience.”
A Mighty Thai is located at 725 Manzanita Avenue. They can also be found on Facebook and Instagram where a menu and pictures are posted.