With Bangkok Grill on U.S. Highway 278, Sam and Jee Poonpoolpoke have found a second chance to bounce back after being a dealt a blow from the country’s struggling economy. Over a year later, the restaurant is running strong and the family has comfortably settled into its new home in Covington.
The Poonpoolpokes opened Bangkok Grill in March 2009, but not long before that they had nothing. They previously owned the Red Tomato in Conyers, but they lost the business to the economic meltdown.
“I lost everything, my house, my car. I lost $1 million in total,” Jee Poonpolpoke said.
After deciding on Covington, the Poonpoolpokes began rebuilding their future. With the size of the current restaurant, Jee found the smaller facility is more manageable when controlling budget and ex- penses. She also has grown to love the city.
“I’m close to everything — the city, doctors, lawyers, hospital and schools,” said Jee. “I don’t ever want to leave here. Even with shopping, I try to stay in the area. If you look hard enough, you will see that everything you need is in Covington.”
Jee is the hostess, her husband Sam, and son Jack are the cooks; her other son Jim, and Jack’s wife, Caroline, are the servers, and Jim’s 6-year-old son, Evan, occasionally seats and sometimes even sits with the customers.
The family is continuing their efforts to make Thai cuisine and Thai fusion a mainstay in Covington. Jee and Sam have been in the food business for more than 20 years, and over that time Sam has learned to cook many different styles of food. He likes to cook traditional Thai and American dishes, as well as mix and match cultures to create his own fusion dishes, Jee said.
Some of Sam’s special- ties include crab cakes, grouper with basil (the main attraction), spicy shellfish, Panang curried duck, honey soy glazed salmon, chicken cashew, Pad Khing, she-crab soup, tom yum shrimp soup, Pad Thai and Pad Kee-Mao. The Bangkok Grill also sells beer and wine, including Thai beers.
The menu also offers traditional American fare, including chicken Caesar salads, chicken fingers and blackened salmon and grouper. Poonpoolpoke hopes this will slowly coax eaters into trying the restaurant’s authentic Thai dishes.
“If someone has never tried Thai before, come and try it out,” Jee said. “If you find that you can’t handle it, there are always other options on the menu.”
The restaurant is open daily except Mondays.
“Sunday is family day for many people,” Jee said. “They spend time together and many of them have church, so we stay open all day for them.”