Follow-Up File: Little Thai Takeout is making it big

Name: Ron and Noi Miner

Job: Owners

Business: Noi’s Little Thai Takeout

What they said then:

In December 2009, Ron and Noi Miner were seeing steady growth at their tiny Baywood Park eatery, Noi’s Little Thai Takeout.

“It’s amazing,” Noi Miner said. “The restaurant is getting too small because of the volume of sales.”

With only one stove and eight seats inside, the couple leased the adjacent property for parking and additional storage in 2007. The couple converted the unused portion of the second building into a retail store.

Without regular hours or staffing, it struggled to make sales.

They also were considering importing a tuk tuk, a three-wheeled vehicle commonly used as a taxi in Thailand.

But they worried about the expense and getting approval from the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

What they say now:

The restaurant continues to attract new customers.

Last year’s sales rose as much as 15 percent compared to 2009, Noi Miner estimated.

Once the sole chef, she’s trained two longtime employees, Cristina Lopez and Ana Flores, to prepare dishes in her style.

“Noi is very strict on the way she wants her food cooked,” her husband said, adding that Lopez and Flores succeed in mimicking her traditional Thai flavors. “I can’t tell the difference.”

To make up for lost table space — only two seats remain in the original building — the Miners have added tables and about 15 chairs in the shop.

It still features art pieces and other imports from her homeland. As people sit there and eat, Ron Miner said he hopes that retail sales might increase.

With a construction background, the husband also built a customer bathroom there. Public facilities aren’t legally required for a takeout restaurant, but denying diners when nature called became increasingly awkward.

It was too dangerous to let visitors use the staff bathroom, he added, because it meant a potentially dangerous walk through the crowded, busy kitchen.

About 13 seats are available on the patio, but some find it too cold on a windy or rainy day.

“We have people who come from a long way away to eat,” such as Paso Robles or Oceano, he said. “They get their food and they have no place to go. Some of them sit in their car. We’re just offering a little more service to make people more comfortable.”

He has continued landscaping and constructed an 8-by-10-foot, temple-style gazebo in the gardens. It could be used for weddings, special-occasion seating or yoga. It also could be unbolted and sold.

The Miners found a tuk tuk that they park out front and use for special occasions, such as hauling Santa and Mrs. Claus in the recent Christmas parade.

“We found one in Arroyo Grande of all places, on Craigslist. It was 10 years old and sitting in a garage. Whoever brought it in got all the paperwork squared away,” he said. “It makes it feel like Thailand.”

— Raven J. Railey