Forest Park will be home to a new Thai and sushi restaurant as White Crane Creative Thai and Sushi is anticipated to open around the beginning of June at 819 Harlem Ave., the previous location of Mom’s Place. The restaurant owners are applying for a liquor license and will also serve smoothies and bubble tea.
Husband and wife team Sinchai and Bee Suptaveeying, who have since 2018 owned the building that formerly housed Mom’s Place, are bringing their experience and creative flair to the space in what will be a fully renovated restaurant, with an open kitchen and industrial-style design. They even “chased down” a famous restaurant muralist from Chicago to create a giant mural of cranes on the north interior wall.
Their three- and four-year-old sons were with them at the restaurant on April 24 when the Review stopped by to see the space and talk to the Suptaveeyings about their plans and background.
The restaurant, they said, will offer both Thai food and sushi. On the Thai side, they’ll have popular dishes like Pad Thai and curries. Recipes used by Sinchai and Bee include those from a friend who is a well-known chef in Bangkok and from Bee’s mother.
But they plan to get creative with the menu too and include items like steamed sea bass and a Thai style pizza and burger. The same goes for their sushi menu, which will feature more commonly served offerings but will have innovative items as well.
“We like to be creative in everything we do,” Bee said. “Some customers always order the most interesting thing on the menu. But we also know some customers come for dishes that are familiar.”
That creativity, they said, is what is driving them, in both the design of the restaurant space and in what the menu will offer.
The Suptaveeyings both have extensive experience in the restaurant business. In 2012 they opened Thai Classic restaurant in Lakeview, but it was destroyed in a fire that began in a hookah lounge two doors down in October 2013.
They currently co-own Thai Spoon and Sushi in downtown Chicago, a restaurant that persevered throughout COVID-19 slowdowns.
White Crane on Harlem Avenue, though, will be the first time they’ve completely started everything from scratch, said Sinchai. Although they owned Thai Classic and co-own Thai Spoon and Sushi, they bought or bought into already-existing businesses. White Crane will be all their own, from the interior design of the restaurant (they hired an architect) to the menu.
Prior to owning a restaurant, Bee worked as a server and Sinchai as a chef, including learning the art of sushi at two Japanese restaurants in Colorado Springs. But he tells a story about how he originally became a chef, something he had to fight to do.
Sinchai said he came to the United States from Bangkok as a student in 2000. He got a job as a dishwasher but really wanted to be a server. The manager said no server spots were available but offered to let Sinchai start doing deliveries, in addition to his dish washing duties, to make extra money.
Sinchai accepted but found that the chef gave priority to dine-in orders, so Sinchai’s delivery orders were taking a long time. He began to sneak into the kitchen when the chef was otherwise occupied to cook the orders himself. Then, before going out on a delivery, he’d quickly do a load of dishes because the water tank was so small that the restaurant would run out of hot water quickly, and he wanted to be sure he’d have hot water again when he returned.
All of it, he said, was a balancing act that forced him to organize his time and taught him many different aspects about how a restaurant functions.