ST. CLOUD - The downtown St. Cloud staple that's served up Thai flavors for nearly three decades is temporarily closed but will soon be rebranded with a new focus on Filipino cuisine, cocktails and, of course, the Thai favorites celebrated by its central Minnesota customers.
Adrienne Donnel and Annie Meyer of Sauk Rapids are purchasing Sawatdee, 800 St. Germain St., and plan to operate the restaurant as-is through January and rebrand by March. Donnel and Meyer close on the property Jan. 14.
"After being an employee of Sawatdee for the last eight years, I can't express enough how excited I am to be able to keep this staple alive," Meyer said in a news release. "This restaurant has always been about community and family and we plan on keeping it that way."
Sawatdee, which means "hello" in Thai, opened in St. Cloud in 1994 as an extension of the Sawatdee restaurants in the Twin Cities. Supenn Harrison founded the original Sawatdee in St. Paul in 1983 after gaining popularity with her Thai egg rolls at the Minnesota State Fair and opening Siam Cafe in Minneapolis in 1979.
Harrison's sister, Noi Sinkasem, owns the St. Cloud restaurant and has been involved since its opening. Harrison and her daughter Cyndy Harrison still run the establishments in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Bloomington and Maple Grove.
Meyer said they will continue to offer a menu with flavor, spices — from a mild level 1 to a wicked spicy level 5 — and fresh ingredients, as well as vegan and gluten-free options.
While keeping patrons' favorite Thai dishes, including noodle dish Pad Thai, the duo will add Filipino cuisine that celebrates Donnel's heritage.
"I am extremely excited to be able to bring my experience of craft cocktail making to create cocktails many people may not have experienced before, using exotic fruits, spices, and homemade purees and simple syrups," Donnel said. "To top if off, being able to bring my family recipes to a community where most have not indulged in Filipino cuisine, while still serving the best Thai food in the area, is a dream come true."
Donnel and Meyer plan to begin interior renovations in early February.