Happy New Year from Ayara Lūk

Posted by Jenn Infanto on 29th December 2017

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Every year, around this time, I like to reflect on the past year – what we’ve achieved, learned, along with our plans for the coming year. It really makes me appreciate the power of a year.

2017 was filled to the brim with big changes. We opened our pop-up Ayara Lūk in January and moved out of Ayara Thai in July, and in this change embarked on the mission to source more responsibly and to change our menu seasonally, not because its trendy but because it is our social and environmental responsibly. Our team challenged our community to try dishes Thais typically do not cook for non-Thais like Nam Prik Kapi (Shrimp Paste Relish), and dishes that reflect our identity as a Thai-Americans like our Brie and Pear Flatbread using our family’s Tigers Cry sauce. We continued to provide living wages to our employees, and began to provide health benefits. The team was challenged to take on bigger catering gigs, like 200+ guest weddings and LA Fashion Week. I was personally challenged to enter my first cooking competition, and humbly brought home the Thai Select Rising Star Chef title.

The year was also not shy of learning moments. We opened a pop-up within walking distance from Ayara Thai to keep our team employed and to continue serving honest Thai food to the community while we closed for construction. We planned our big move for months, yet we had a rocky transition. Change is never easy for anyone — our chefs struggled to prep/cook out of kitchen an eighth the size of what they’re used to, and many guests expressed their dislike of our ever changing, smaller, less modifiable and higher priced menu. We lost many customers, and it really made me question all of the big and small decisions that have led us here. But as we struggled to win over as many as we could with our explanations and pleas for understanding – I came to the realization that the mission of responsibly running a restaurant and dispelling age-old stereotypes of what Thai food should be was going to come at a cost. Change often comes with it. We are forever grateful to the community that has supported our team, and our family, for the past 13 years, and acknowledge that while not everyone may agree with the direction we have taken, we hope they will come to understand that we must cook and run our business true to what we believe in.

Come 2018, we plan to finally (please cross your fingers for us) begin our renovation and construction of Ayara Thai, which we anticipate to be completed between Spring and Summer. We cannot wait for what’s to come in the new year!

From our family to yours, we wish you a Happy New Year full of joy, peace and happiness. See you in 2018!
-Vanda Asapahu of Ayara Thai and Ayara Lūk