After 19 years as a restaurateur, Sumlee Beede has passed her Sala Thai restaurant on to her younger sister Supannee Stamm. The eatery at 114 W. First St. in Downtown Duluth was renamed Thai by Thai on Sept. 1.
Stamm, who shares ownership of the restaurant with her fiancé, Randy Gabel, intends to retain many of Sala Thai’s menu items and lunch buffet. Her goal this year is to create additional items on the menu such as duck and various fish dishes.
She chose the name Thai by Thai to reflect the authenticity of the food.
“It’s Thai by Thai because a lot of Lao, a lot of Vietnamese, they open Thai restaurant. They’re not Thai, and I am Thai. I would like (people) to know how Thai really cook. We know more about herbs, what stuff to put in, what kind of vegetables goes with mild food — what vegetables go with spicy food.”
Stamm said Beede is retiring and plans to spend time traveling, possibly to visit family in Thailand or friends in the United States.
“She didn’t have time before,” Stamm said.
Beede opened Duluth’s first Thai restaurant in 1999. She operated Thai Krathong at 114 W. First St. for four years before selling the business to Duang Benkoski, who moved it to Canal Park and closed it in 2013.
Beede re-entered the restaurant business in 2008, opening Sala Thai at 4023 Woodland Ave. She moved that restaurant to the original Thai Krathong location on First Street in 2015.
Thai by Thai is Stamm’s second restaurant venture in Duluth. In 2008 she opened Bangkok Royal in Duluth’s Village Square Mall. A damaged water tank closed the road in front of the restaurant, interrupting business and leading to its closure eight months later. Stamm went on to start other businesses in North Dakota and Mississippi.
“I love to cook,” she said. “I’ve loved to cook since (I was a) little girl. And I’m happy. I enjoy (when) people like my food.”
Stamm’s ambition doesn’t end at updating her new restaurant. She hopes to expand and sell Thai food at the Minnesota State Fair.
“We need to get the truck first to apply for the fair,” she said.
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