Ginger Thai provides small space for cultural cuisine

Tucked away on the corner of Second and Washington, there lies a cozy little eatery named Ginger Thai Cuisine.

Although the venue is small, the atmosphere is welcoming and warm. Menu items range from curries to noodles to stir fries.

“My mother and I had a tiny restaurant in Thailand before I decided to move here. It was our dream to share our family recipe with the foreigners who’ve tried (or never tried) such a different type of food before,” said Wanida Thomas, the owner of Ginger Thai and mother of sophomore Weerada Wechakij. “I picked Thai food because I was born and raised in Thailand and love to embrace my culture. For Thai people, food is very important because it expresses who we are as a group of people.”

The eatery was first opened in September of 2012. Weerada began working in the restaurant business to help her mother out in early 2013. Her duties as an employee included waitstaff, cooking, prepping and dish washing.

In the beginning, Weerada faced challenges with the family business.

“Things were hard for a while because my mom was putting a lot of pressure on me and saying that I had to take care of the restaurant and I had to be responsible, and at the time I was a lot younger, so I didn’t have the right mindset about things, but as time went by, I eventually began to understand the importance of having a family business and what it means to take care of it.”

Weerada found that regardless of the challenges, she still loved devoting time to the family business.

“I love working with my family, and I love the atmosphere with the customers and the coworkers, and I love sharing my culture and food with others.”

And culture was always big part of Weerada’s life. From an early age, her family placed a great deal of emphasis on their Thai roots.

“My mom would not let me speak English with her if I was at home or with anyone who speaks Thai. It’s really important to her because she doesn’t want us kids to lose our culture.”

Wanida said she values the culture in her life and her pride for her Thai roots.

“Culture is very important to me because it shows people who I am and where I am from. I am proud to be Thai, and I love to show off the culture and traditions that I practiced my whole life with other people with different cultures than mine. I see that having culture shows diversity and it brings the beauty out of everyone. It connects everyone together.”

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