Thai Thai House to Open June 19
Much-anticipated restaurant on Main Street in Emmaus will be ready for business on Father's Day, according to owner.
When Thai, Thai House opens in Emmaus as now planned on June 19, the restaurant will likely be initially more popular for what it isn’t -- than what it is.
Chamras “Charlie” Kiewkajee plans to unveil a Thai food restaurant at 302 Main Street in Emmaus – not a “social club” proposed by others who fired a controversy through the borough last summer.
“We’re fixing it up,” said Kiewkajee, who was working the dinner shift in his Thai, Thai II restaurant at 509 Main Street in Bethlehem June 14. “The building is 200 years old. We’re doing the whole thing for $300,000.
“We’re going to have a sushi bar, a banquet room, a new kitchen and a liquor license – like our restaurant in Bethlehem.”
At first Kiewkajee planned to open in Emmaus on Feb. 14 --Valentine’s Day -- but construction went way beyond the timetable by four months and costs increased an extra $100,000.
“We started thinking we’d owe $30,000,’’ he laughed. “We wanted to buy the building and the owner wanted $500,000! To finally open, we needed the cash. So we will open this weekend -- Sunday.”
Kiewkajee also owns Thai restaurants in Stroudsburg and Wilkes-Barre. He said he has decided to lease the Emmaus site, which was most recently the home for the noted Marcel’s Old Country Inn and the House of India.
He didn’t disclose the owner of the Emmaus property, saying only it was from the King of Prussia area. He could only laugh when asked about what 302 Main Street almost became.
Last June, between 300 and 400 residents attended a zoning meeting at Emmaus Community Park after word came out that the Main Street property would become the Vault Social Club, an adult entertainment facility, recalled Teri Madison, executive director of Emmaus Main Street Program.
That zoning application was rejected by the Emmaus Zoning Hearing Board, opening a spot for the Thai, Thai House, she said.
Kiewkajee said he is restoring the building, bringing pride to Pat Zentner, president of the Emmaus Historical Society.
“The building was originally a hotel built in the late 1800s,” said Zentner, whose family has owned the nearby David’s Electric since 1946. “It’s going to be splendid when they finish with it. We’ve watched the work stop and go from the beginning last fall.”
Kiewkajee said his family is managing all four of his restaurants, and is pleased to be moving into a quiet town such as Emmaus.
“Emmaus has a good reputation,” he said. “PPL was interested in having us come to near their (N. 9th Street) headquarters in Allentown.
“We looked into it, but found that the area where PPL is located isn’t good for business. It turns into a ghost town at night. No business there.”
Zentner, president of the Historical Society, said the Main Street site in Emmaus has been a bar or restaurant since the turn of the 20th Century.
“It was called Central Hotel in the 1900s,” she said. “Then it became Marcel’s and House of India. Marcel’s was very popular, but House of India never gained much popularity.”
Zentner feels the building, even renovated, may be too small to accommodate
a business such as Thai, Thai House. “The bigger the better in the restaurant business,” she said.
Another possible problem, Zentner observed, could be a relative small amount of parking.
“You want to be able to easily park when you go to a restaurant,” she said. “But that’s my preference.”