Fans of Thai cuisine living in west Bradenton are in luck, as the popular locally owned restaurant chain, Thai Wasabi, opened the doors to its third location last week in the Sweetbay Supermarket plaza off of Manatee Avenue at 59th Street West.
Husband and wife team and co-owners, Tony and Natalie Teav, opened the first Thai Wasabi location in Bennett Plaza off of State Road 64 in 2008, where the combination Thai and sushi menu quickly established the restaurant as a popular east Bradenton eatery — so popular, in fact, that just two years later they were able to open a second location in south Sarasota.
“My wife’s family had a Thai and sushi restaurant in Madeira Beach that was really popular, and we figured if the formula works there, why not here? Thai and sushi proved to be a combination that runs pretty strong neck and neck, as far as customer demand goes, in this area, too,” Teav said.
Because the newest Thai Wasabi location (formerly Thai Café at 5763 Manatee Ave. W) is smaller than its predecessors, Teav said the location will only carry a Thai menu, “unless there is an overwhelming demand” for a sushi selection.
However, popular dishes such as the Pad Thai, assortments of curry dishes and “Mom and Dad’s Egg Rolls,” make for an excellent selection on both the lunch and dinner menus, in lieu of the sushi selection at the other two locations.
Teav attributes the popularity of Thai Wasabi’s food to the family recipes that make up the restaurant’s menu.
“All the recipes are family recipes, and I think a big part of what makes our food so popular is that it is not heavy,” he explained. “Everything is always fresh and portioned correctly so that you walk away from a meal satisfied, but not sluggish. That way, you can eat lunch without feeling like you’re going to fall asleep at your desk when you return to the office.”
The house egg rolls, Teav said, are a big part of what set the restaurant apart from several other restaurants in the area that serve popular Asian cuisine, because Thai Wasabi’s rolls are made from scratch and freshly rolled each morning.
“People have been going crazy for them since day one,” Teav said. “Most places you go, an egg roll is just a rolled up mash of vegetables, but because ours are never frozen, they’re always crisp and crunchy, and filled with good fresh veggies and meat. Our philosophy is that to make good food, you have to master the simple things — and our egg rolls are an example of that.”
Like the other two Thai Wasabi locations, the newest restaurant is located in a commercial area and looks to cater to patrons who seek quick and tasty lunch hour alternatives.
“We’re used to the fast-paced business crowds in Sarasota and east Bradenton who need to get in and out quickly during their lunch hour, and we’re trying to maintain that mentality at this location. It’s a comfortable place to sit down and dine, but it’s also a good alternative when you’re in a hurry.”
In addition to the quality and convenience of Thai Wasabi’s cuisine, Teav attributes the restaurant’s popularity to the personal connection the restaurant staff strives to maintain with its customer base. Teav and his wife divide their time between the three restaurants six days a week, except for Sundays when the restaurants are closed.
“My wife and I are on the floor every day because we want to go the extra mile to have a strong connection with our customers — our friends,” Teav said. “When we opened the business in 2008, we suffered just like anyone else learned how to cut costs to stay afloat — but we truly owe our thanks to our customer base. They’re the ones who have carried us through.”
Rather than putting money toward purchasing advertisements in local media, the restaurant donates to local schools and supports various causes championed by its regular customers through monetary donations.
“We like to give back to the customers who come here often, and who support us. For us, that’s the most concrete way we can pay back our customers and our community,” Teav said.
The new Thai Wasabi celebrated its grand opening on Monday, December 3rd. Business hours are 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for lunch and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. for dinner every Monday through Saturday. The restaurant is closed on Sundays. Dinner hours extend to 9:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
For more information, the west Bradenton location can be reached at 941-896-9790.