Thai to die for
By RANDY GONZALES
OSBORNE — One of Urai Greig’s friends said she should open a Thai restaurant in this small town in north-central Kansas.
"It was her; it wasn't me," Robert Greig said of his wife's desire to open Thai Cuisine.
Robert Greig, who grew up in Osborne, retired in 1998 from his airport job in Wichita. He was happy seeing the world, traveling to warm destinations in the winter. That's how Robert met his future wife; she booked reservations when he wanted to spend time at the vacation resort island of Phuket, Thailand.
The couple married in 2006 in the United States, but didn't open the restaurant until June of last year.
Robert Greig had no doubts about the restaurant's success. His wife, known as Gem, already had given local food lovers a taste of her cooking.
"It was very busy because people had gotten to know her, and she cooked for friends," Robert said of the restaurant's opening. "We were swarmed the first day; it was wall-to-wall."
"And then I didn't have the experience for the restaurant," said Gem, who has loved cooking since she did it for her family while growing up in Thailand.
It's a family affair, with Robert's sister, Ortha Goheen, filling in as a waitress, and Gem's sister helping in the kitchen.
The long wait for orders to be filled on the first day didn't deter the customers, who have kept coming back.
The reason is the food and the friendly service, said regular customers Travis Conaway of Smith Center and Darryl Hoar of Osborne.
"I really like it," Hoar said. "Nice variety, tastes really great. They're always super nice when you come in."
Conaway has tried just about everything on the menu; his favorite is Pad Thai, which is stir fried noodles with bean sprouts, eggs and crushed peanuts with either chicken, pork, beef or shrimp.
"We're here often enough I like to work through the whole menu, because it's all excellent," Conaway said.
Gem said the menu consists of things she likes -- and knows how to cook.
"Everything we serve is fresh; we don't use frozen," she said. "You want frozen stuff, you can buy from grocery store."
On the menu is everything from cashew nuts chicken to sweet-and-sour chicken to Thai fried rice. Appetizers include egg rolls and crab Rangoon. One of the beverages is Thai ice tea, a sweet drink that contains condensed milk.
The restaurant had a first-time customer earlier this month, Philip Bauer and his family from Smith Center.
"This is fantastic," he said. "The flavor's different. Man, it melts in your mouth."
Bauer vowed to make a return trip.
"For sure, definitely," he said.
Just don't plan an excursion during the winter months. The restaurant was closed from November to mid-March so the couple could winter in Arizona, something they plan to do every year. Robert wasn't concerned about losing his customers while they were gone.
"Our customers have been so loyal," he said.
The restaurant is open 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.
"I'm retired; the good part is we're open just four days a week," Robert said. "That gives us three days off ... a little mini-vacation."