Narin’s Thai Kitchen on Green Bay’s east side announced it will close, citing staff shortages
By Jim Paul
GREEN BAY – Narin’s Thai Kitchen, located on Green Bay’s east side, which had become a go-to spot for those craving authentic Thai cuisine, has become a victim of its own success.
Phanthavasunt (Narin) Dorsch announced she will close the popular restaurant after three years in business; with the last day being Aug. 13.
Making a home in America
A native of Kanchanaburi, Thailand – home of the well-known bridge over the River Kwai – Narin came to the U.S. in July, 2008, to be with her husband, a Green Bay resident who she met in Thailand in 2004.
Earlier this year, Narin became a U.S. citizen after calling the country home for more than a decade.
Getting used to the Wisconsin weather – even in summer – took some effort, she said.
“Funny story for our family because when we (arrived in) middle of July and Thailand is so very, very hot,” she said. “My hometown we are at 100-110 degrees all the time and more than 95-97% of humidity. And then we came here like 85-87 degrees, we sat in front of the fireplace with a blanket.”
In Thailand, Narin said she worked as a nurse at a public hospital for more than 18 years.
It’s her experience with health care that she said sparked her interest in healthy cooking.
New to the area, Narin said she began working at a restaurant at the Oneida Casino in order to learn how to cook.
She said she liked the fast-paced environment.
Narin said she dreamed of one day opening her own restaurant.
That dream, however, was put on hold for several years because she had children in school and helped care for her in-laws.
Narin finally achieved her dream in 2019, when she opened Narin’s Thai Kitchen on East Mason Street in Green Bay.
Narin said what she liked most about owning her own restaurant was of course the cooking, as well as the relationships and friendships she’s developed with her customers.
“I treat all of my customers like family,” she said.
About two-and-a-half months after opening, the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
However, Narin said when the restaurant reopened business picked back up again, but unfortunately, a steady team of staff members didn’t.
The decision to close
While the eatery has had much success in its three short years in business, Narin said a lack of staff – which led to her working from open until close every day the restaurant was open – has made it too difficult to remain open.
“(We’re) short of staff, I’m not happy at all,” she said. “I just have two that are reliable that can work the schedule. I only myself can cook, I have to do everything myself.”
Narin said the decision to close was not an easy one.
“The lease will be up by the end of next month,” she said. “If I extend the lease it just means that they (are) asking for five years and (that’s) another five years I cannot do anything. Because the lease is so expensive, and we have to be responsible… if I get sick I cannot cook, and I still have to pay the rent every month for five years and that is a big deal.”
Narin said she will miss the customers.
“You see the customers, they come and I say ‘hi,’ I say ‘hello,’” she said. “We like all the communication like friends, you meet with friends, you meet with family all the time.”
Narin said she always enjoyed it when customers came back.
“I feel happy,” she said. “I feel like when you meet, you are all friends sometimes – how you are excited about it. This is everyday I’m happy. I’m happy like that because they come back like friends. Like family.”
When asked what she’ll miss about the restaurant, Narin said she will miss the fast pace and the hard work, but mostly seeing her customers satisfied.
“I work hard, (but) I’m better about how happy the customers (are) coming back, and I got all the positive feedback from the customers, from the community,” she said.
What’s next for Narin?
She said she plans to stay in the restaurant or food service industry, and has some opportunities she’s looking into, but she’d still need a staff in place before diving into anything else.
As far as parting words for her customers:
“Thank you, thank you, thank you, and millions of thanks for all my customers, every single one who supported me,” she said. “I’m feeling so warm. Like when I’m from Thailand, my country is so hot. When I’ve come here is so very cold, is so different. I told all my friends and family in Thailand, the weather is cold, but I never feel cold.”