The plan all along was to have Madame Matisse and a Thai restaurant in Santa Fe.
Siriporn “JJ” Khongkabrirat opened her Madame Matisse in April 2019. She acquired the former Milad Persian Bistro space at 802 Canyon Road in October 2019 with plans to open the easy-to-remember Thai on Canyon in April 2020.
Along came the pandemic and lockdown a couple weeks earlier.
“We thought we didn’t want to make many changes [inside], it was a restaurant before,” Khongkabrirat said. “When we got stuck by COVID, we decided to change everything.”
Between permitting and finding contractors, the opening was delayed until this week.
Thai on Canyon opens at 3 p.m. Friday with hours thereafter from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. likely seven days a week, she said. The restaurant is located between Geronimo and El Farol.
“I would love to introduce Thai food from every part of Thailand,” Khongkabrirat said. “I want people to know that Thai food is not just pad thai and papaya salad. I want to emphasize the culture of Thailand with my food.”
Because of the state public health orders, Thai on Canyon will open primarily for takeout and delivery, with five outdoor tables on a patio. When indoor dining is allowed, Khongkabrirat expects to have about nine or 10 tables indoors.
“We will deliver with our own driver within a three-mile radius,” she said.
There will also be a small store inside, and the morning hours will be dedicated to breakfast, coffee and pastries. Thai food will start at 11:45 a.m.
Khongkabrirat was hinting at her plans for Thai cuisine over the past six months with Thai night every Monday at her French cafe and bakery, Madame Matisse. She did that to draw more people to what she described as a somewhat awkward location behind a building off Cerrillos Road.
Thai on Canyon originally was planned for Cerrillos Road, but Khongkabrirat remembered a Canyon Road location that appealed to her when she was visiting friends before she ever moved to Santa Fe.
Khongkabrirat immigrated from Thailand to Los Angeles in 2000 and opened a French bakery and did Thai catering, takeout and delivery. Fifteen years later, she moved to Santa Fe and eventually opened Madame Matisse and the downtown Madame Matisse On-the-Go.
And somehow that Canyon Road building that struck her fancy several years earlier became available just as she was looking for a place to open a Thai restaurant.
“We did not know one day we would get lucky to get that space,” Khongkabrirat said.