Lovers of Thai cuisine have a new, local restaurant to indulge their desire for those traditional, spicy dishes.
The Red Orchid restaurant at 5439 Babcock Boulevard in Ross Township has been open for several weekends and hosted its grand opening Thursday.
Sisters Panchiwan Tangkea and Keson Kaplanek are the owners, but it is truly a family-run business, with nieces, nephews, and even Panichwan and Keson's mother lending a hand.
Panichiwan came to the United States about 10 years ago after she married an American. Keson and the rest of her family stayed behind in Thailand until the tsunami of 2004 wiped out Keson's restaurant business.
It took a while, but Panichiwan finally convinced Keson to come to America.
"I said, 'Why don't you come here, I don't have any family here, this would be nice for me, and then you can start working at Thai restaurants here,' and she said, OK," she said.
But the transition took time for Keson, who worked at Bangkok Balcony in Squirrel Hill and Nicky's Thai Kitchen on the North Side before opening up her own restaurant.
"The restaurant business is totally different here—all of the rules, all of the regulations," said Panichiwan. "In Thailand, if you are ready and your restaurant is decorated, you simply open the doors."
Both sisters quickly recognized the lack of authentic Thai cuisine in the North Hills.
"North Hills is a growing area (with) a lot of middle and upper-middle class families and young professionals, and because Cranberry is so nearby, the whole area is growing," Panichwan said.
"We have all old family recipes, and a lot of the ingredients we make here. I live in Butler, and I buy a lot of our produce at farm markets there."
Red Orchid offers take-out, delivery within three miles and dine-in service in a modest-sized dining room.
"We didn't want too a big a space. We wanted it to feel very comfy, where we can provide lots of personal service," Panichiwan said.
And it appears to be working.
"We've been open for two weekends and already are getting repeat customers," she said.
For more information about the Red Orchid, call 412-837-2527 or check out their website at ThaiRedOrchid.com.