Tiger Cried Success
Tasty Thai and Big Bowl Pho
Dom Wiruhayarn and Marisa Wiruhayarn | Kansas City, Mo. | Main Street and Second Stage
We first fell in love with Tasty Thai when Marisa Wiruhayarn presented at 1 Million Cups. (Why did it take so long? Tasty Thai opened in 2000. Always kicking ourselves for those years lost.) Since then, we’ve stocked our pantries and downed a near insane supply of her Tiger Cried sauce and have become regular diners at the restaurant. You know, it’s called “Tasty” Thai for a very good reason.
Below, we share our find and her story with you.
What do you do?
As an entrepreneur, I am a restaurant owner/manager, accountant, and creator/distributor of two Thai sauces. More importantly, I am a mother and grandmother.
What’s your origin story?
I came to the United State with little English and was then widowed with two small children in 1986. In 1987, I began English lessons and worked my way to an accounting degree in 1991. I remarried and opened the first Tasty Thai location in Kansas City in 2000, with a second location in Liberty in 2010, and opened Big Bowl Pho, Kansas City (noodle shop) in 2014.
We live and work in Kansas City because it is a great place to start a business. We found entrepreneurial help and opportunities here, as there were no Thai restaurants in the KC Northland area.
What key challenge did you have to overcome?
There were financial and time concerns, as we started very small and we had to overcome the long hours of a restaurant business. We learned, were successful and know how to budget to keep a positive cash flow.
Who has helped you along the way?
1 Million Cups, Clay County EDC, Northland Chamber, KCSourceLink, Story Corp/NPR, Northland CAPS, networking groups, partnerships with local community gardens for ingredients.
What’s your big news in the past year?
The first case of one of our sauces, Tasty Thai Tiger Cried, was placed in HyVee and expanded to more than 40 locations after that, including other grocery chains, as well as two Kansas City casinos.
What flavor do you add to KC?
Not only do we add the many flavors of our two restaurants and our noodle shop, our two sauces, Tasty Thai Tiger Cried and Sweet Peanut, are extremely popular with our customer base and others, as they have been purchased retail, as well as in our restaurants.
What are your favorite Kansas City brands? Who gets it?
For me, it would be Danny O'Neill, The Roasterie Coffee. He puts his employees first, gives back to the community and has a great product.
What does shopping local mean to you?
When we shop local, we give back and support our community economically, which supports those who reside in it. This is our home, and we need to do our part to build and maintain a strong community, creating jobs and increasing quality of life.
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