It’s More Than Just Food at Thai Time, Belmont CA

Editor’s note: Thai Time closed in 2017 and In true fashion, Tom held a party for the regulars. We all dropped in to pay homage to the friends we’d made over the years and say farewell a true neighborhood gem. Thai Time is now a gluten-free bakery, Zest.

There’s a restaurant in my neighborhood, Thai Time I’ve been frequenting the past decade or so. It’s got a varied menu which remains consistent in quality and a very friendly staff.  Oh and the bartender pours a mean cocktail.

On a recent visit the night was slow and I took a seat at the bar. Tom (the bartender) and I started chatting about pretty much nothing and we landed on the topic of me having worked at Oral B Labs (yes, the toothbrush company) and him meeting a former co-worker. Turns out that co-worker was also a frequent diner at Thai Time who visited twice-weekly and always ordered the same dish, the Mango sticky rice.

Thai Time Tom
Thai Time was about the food, drinks and Tom.

A year or so of this schedule and – poof! – Louie vanished. After some time passed and still no Louie, Tom dug out a business card and dialed the corresponding phone number. When Louie answered Tom asked why he’d stopped coming to the restaurant. Louie suggested they meet at a nearby location (other than Thai Time) where he told the full story.

Louie had leukemia and was in need of a transplant.

I worked with Louie but not on an every day basis. I remember him telling me he had leukemia and feeling sad for this guy who seemed full of life and yet was obviously clinging to life. Our company was then in the throes of moving to Boston and we were shutting things down in Belmont CA. I lost touch and moved on to a new job and new co-workers.

Along the way I heard that Louie lost his race against time. I was sad to hear he passed away but then, being so busy he faded from my thoughts. Until my recent conversation with Tom.

The thing that amazes me is that someone not really connected to Louie took it upon himself to shed just a little humanity on someone so in need. And finally it made me understand why there are always so many people hanging around the bar at Thai Time who call it “their family away from home.”

So this year, my New Year’s resolution is to bother to care a whole lot more when someone replies with “not doing so well” to my casual “how are you?” question. And of course, to make sure I check in with Tom if I plan to take a leave of absence from my favorite dish – pattaya prawns with green beans – and Thai Time.

A tribute to Louie.

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I’m a tech marketer by day and a wannabe cook once my laptop powers down. These days, the line between quitting time and play is pretty thin. It's why I like a little discovery in the kitchen— creativity in prep and ingredients—to take the edge off the mundane and make food and feasts fun. Because let’s face it, if it’s not fun, then somewhere, somehow, you’re doing it wrong.

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