It could be a while before there’s a new special at Pak’s Green Corner in Superior.
Kamolpak Williams, co-owner of the Thai fusion restaurant, dreams up new dishes while she sleeps. As a small business owner in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, she hasn’t been getting much sleep.
Despite a state-ordered shutdown of restaurants and bars starting at 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, customers showed up at Pak’s. But the protocols had changed. No diners can eat in the building. People can walk in, order, leave a phone number and wait in their vehicle. Orders can also be called in. Once the order is ready, they get a call or text and pick it up.
Williams has highlighted her other safety measures on the business’ Facebook page — a plastic sheet barrier between the cashier and customers, food prep cooks wearing masks. Wednesday she was rearranging the restaurant’s interior for better customer flow in a time of social distancing, where people are asked to stay 6 feet apart.
“So many things to figure out,” Williams said. “We do day-by-day. We’re not sure what is going to work, but we want it smooth, nobody frustrated.”
The business may not be there when the pandemic passes. Williams plans to close the doors when the lease runs out May 24. Business has been good, she said, but she wants to spend more time with her family.
“I’m doing good, but not good enough to spend my whole time at work, and no time for the family,” Williams said. “It’s not worth it. My family comes first. My success, can put it away. My dream can put it away, but people around me, my family is important.”
She was going to announce the closure in April, but decided to move up the timeline to give customers more time to say goodbye.
“If they like my food, come here while I’m still here,” she said.
The first Pak’s Green Corner opened in West Duluth in 2012 and closed after two years. About a month before it closed, it was featured on an episode of Guy Fieri’s “Diner, Drive-Thrus and Dives” on the Food Network.
The Superior location wasn’t planned. Williams said a cook who worked with her in Duluth asked her to look into options for opening a restaurant in Superior. After she found a spot at the former Kenny Wong’s building, 1901 Tower Ave., the cook was no longer interested. Williams had time on her hands and had spent time researching the spot, so she opened the new Pak's Green Corner in 2018 with partners Samita Hunter of Cloquet and her daughter, Pynk Pookmont.
To Williams, cooking is art. She said one of the most enjoyable parts of the job is dreaming up delicious combinations for the restaurant’s rotating special, which she posts on Facebook. The most recent, Kai Phad Pong Karee or yellow curry chicken stir fried, was inspired when her husband bought too much celery.
The Duluth woman is already looking forward to future possibilities, from launching a food truck to herb gardens to growing mangoes in Florida. And she’s continuing to adjust to changing orders and regulations being made in response to COVID-19.
Businesses still open: Visit the Chamber’s COVID-19 update page for a link to a list of businesses offering to-go, delivery and pick-up options.
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