Bhan Thai interior

Thanks for the memories Bhan Thai

A faithful patron says goodbye to Bhan Thai, beloved Midtown staple

By Mark Parsell

Bhan Thai would have celebrated 19 years before it’s announced closing last week. That’s also how long it’s been my favorite restaurant in Memphis.

Prior to the current location, owner Molly Smith operated Sawaadi on Union — that’s where we were first acquainted. Countless birthday parties, lunches and cocktail-fueled Thursday nights followed, and I’ll miss the people almost as much as the place.

Sadly, we are only on the front-end of the post-pandemic destruction of our neighborhood bars and restaurants and likewise, the sustainability of small-town America. I think Molly said it best in her interview with Jennifer Biggs and The Daily Memphian: “It’s because of COVID, it’s because everyone is having a hard time finding good employees, though honestly I was very lucky there. It’s getting supplies, and it’s that I’m just tired.”

We’re all tired. One of the messages for all of us should be to continue to patronize local restaurants, music venues, shops, galleries and businesses in general. Go to new places, meet new people, get to know the owners, hang out and be good neighbors.

Margo Price seemed to be foreshadowing when she sang that “The future ain’t what it used to be” in her song “Tennessee” that was released in 2016. It may have a different look, but there can be bright days ahead if we all help each other out a little bit at a time.

In the meantime, go visit the nice people at The Nine Thai Sushi in the former Sawaadi/Bhan Thai location on Union Downtown. They are serving up great food with smiles on their faces.

If you see Molly, don’t hesitate to tell her how much you’ll miss the place — she might even give you one of her customary Kentucky colloquialisms: “I knooooooooow”!

Thanks for the memories!

Photo from Mark Parsell. This essay was republished with permission.

Mark Parsell owns and operates South Main Sounds, a record store and music venue for music fans and aficionados that provides a showcase and a platform for musicians, singers and songwriters. Mark hosts live music at South Main Sounds Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays 6 to 9PM. Find upcoming shows on the South Main Sounds Facebook page.

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