As a Thai Refugee, a yearning for freedom made Vanh Kalong hungry for financial security and independence. She knew that she wanted to carry the weight of this success or failure on her shoulders, and that whatever outcome would be a result of the choices she would continue to make, not others.
In the year 2000, Vanh looked around the downtown core of Hamilton, ON, and saw the opportunity to improve the culture, people, and the community she had chosen to call home. With a “If you build it, they will come” attitude and knocking on many doors tirelessly for months to convince someone to believe in her dream, she decided to take a risk. That risk was to open a Thai cuisine restaurant in the downtown core, where there were no other restaurants like hers, let alone few, if any, female owners in the area. This did not slow down her passion – instead, it fueled her to show the city she loved what she was made of, and after pouring every penny she had saved into renovations and construction, on July 6 in 2001, My-Thai opened its doors on John Street.
Vanh, her late brother Johnny, and her loyal team worked tirelessly around the clock, often sleeping on rice bags over the lunch hour waiting for customers to come inside the restaurant in the early days. They worked hard for the restaurant and the customers, but they also worked hard to learn, educate Hamiltonians on what Thai cuisine was.
The kindness and generosity of the locals quickly made My-Thai a well-known establishment in the downtown core. The news of My-Thai quickly spread, and food lovers far and wide welcomed us with open arms as we continued to educate and inspire more and more people to try our food. We believe it is our authentic approach to everything we do – from the quality, taste, our interactions, how we approach the community, and also our loyal customers that inspires people to return time and time again.
My-Thai has consistently given back to their community, and has been a deserving and appreciative recipient of numerous awards over the last 20 years. We strive to do our best every day!