How do we improve our neighborhoods by empowering the local food businesses, without taking away it's charm and authenticity- the Same Same team might just have the answer
For just about anyone who’s lived in a big city, anywhere in the world, you’ve probably become familiar with the cycle of gentrification: An affordable neighborhood with a strong cultural presence attracts the artists, artists move in and open businesses ( think craft coffee shops and design stores), a slew of young people are then attracted to move there, rent prices go up, the locals who instilled the neighborhood with their unique culture are pushed out, rent further increases, the artists move out (so do the cool stores), big chains come in and that neighborhood is no longer interesting anymore.
As you can see, the process of gentrification, as we’ve seen it, hasn’t been good for anyone in the long term. Therefore, the question remains: How do we develop a neighborhood, without displacing the locals and taking away its charm? The team at Same Same Thai in Silverlake grappled with that very same question… their response might just be the answer:
The Same Same Story;
Rambuten Thai in Silverlake had been open since 2003. Started by dynamic cousin duo, Annie Daniel and Katy Noochla-or, the pair had roots in the history of Thailand. Their family opened Chao Krung (one of the city’s first Thai restaurants) in Hollywood in 1976, and were an instrumental part in forming what is known today as Thai Town. Although Annie and Katy had the authority and talent to create authentic Thai dishes and execute it beautifully, they were struggling with their business when they reached out to Last Word Hospitality Consulting Group. When the team at LWH began introducing some ideas to improve the business structure, they suddenly came with a better idea: Perhaps LWH could become partners, investing both capital and injecting their business savvy to help the restaurant grow.
How did this change their business?
Since Annie and Katy understood that they wanted their business to thrive, they’re realized that a partnership could be just the answer. The team at LWH had always been committed to preserving L.A’s unique neighborhoods and family owned businesses, while improving them, and they realized this is just the way to do it- through collaboration, not competitiveness. If more and more investors, consultants and cities began working together, empowering one another and sharing the profits fairly, everyone would win. Most importantly, neighborhoods wouldn’t completely change, they’d only get better.
Same Same Thai Today:
Once the team got together, they were able to bring each one of their strengths to the table. Annie and Katy continued to create and expand their Bangkok influenced menu, tying together southern and northern Thai cuisine. Dishes that had always wowed guests stayed on the menu, while new creations such as the Spicy Apple Salad were introduced. Adam and Holly brought their wine background to table, bringing an extensive and appropriate wine list to the mix. Perfectly complimenting the spicy, tangy, and deep Thai flavors. They also collaborated on bringing a more impactful design element, imbuing the rich colors of Thailand with the easy attitude of the neighborhood. The result? Within the first year, they tripled their sales.
A Visit to Same Same:
It’s a beautiful early evening when we visit Same, Same. The sun is just peeking through the windows, adding a subtle light glow to the rich dark wood, reflecting off the huge golden mural of Buddha displayed in the back. We are here just in time for happy hour and we are treated to a perfect selection of sum tam thai (papaya salad), peek gai tod ( extra crispy chicken wings with basil leaves, scallions and chili), and the pa pia tod ( fresh spring rolls). We enjoy these perfectly spiced and textured dishes with a cool glass of sparkly Txakolina ,a refreshing white wine that originates from Spain’s Basque Country.
For the main course we are served a sweet and tangy crab noodle, with a perfect hint of shellfish flavor ane pad see ew is an umami-rich bowl of rice noodles flavored with fish and oyster sauce and tempered with fresh vegetables. As we continue to savor the wine with the abundance of flavors, I look around at the golden hues, the umbrellas adorning the ceilings and the bar as it’s starting to fill up with a variety of people, and I think to myself, “maybe this is the perfect marriage, perhaps we can be the same, but different.”