Emshika Aberini is hard not to admire.
The Thai native, who possesses both sparkling charm and business-school savvy, has parlayed her dream to own her own restaurant, and to honor her sister’s memory, into a classic success story that has garnered her headlines and accolades for all she has achieved.
The owner and chef of Chang Thai Café in Littleton, N.H. has infused her homespun recipes, learned from her family in Thailand, into a thriving restaurant, so notable, that the pioneering young woman was honored in a series of articles by New Hampshire Magazine, which lauded Emshika as one of the Faces of Next Generation Leadership.
Emshika opened the Chang Thai Café in 2008, in the midst of a national recession and following the death of her beloved sister Ann-Sriwipha Phathan. Dedicating the eatery to her sister’s memory, Emshika rose every morning inspired to be the successful entrepreneur her sister would want her to be.
In this week’s Boxerbrand blog, Recipe for Success, Emshika talks about her restaurant’s odyssey, from a business plan she drew up while studying organizational management in college, to a thriving business.
Q: What were you planning to do with your college studies before you decided to open a restaurant?
I was studying for my master’s degree in Organizational Management at Russell Sage College in Albany, New York. And I was planning to work in the corporate world before opening my own business. During my college years, however, I wrote my restaurant business plan. I had it complete before I graduated. I decided that I could combine my Thai heritage and culinary skills with my business expertise, into a restaurant that combined all my talents to create great food.
Q: Where did you get the inspiration? Your restaurant is dedicated to your sister.
My grandmother, mom and my late sister all inspired me.
My grandmother owned a restaurant for years, as well as my mom, who also owned a restaurant and a few small businesses. They were my main inspiration and role models. They also taught me so many things about being an entrepreneur that shape me today.
And then when my sister passed away, I knew she had always dreamed of opening a Thai restaurant. And her dream inspired me to make it happen. I saw this business as a way to keep our family together since I live here in the US. Even though, of course, I do miss home.
Q: What surprises, good luck, and obstacles have you encountered?
I always believe in my gut, and feeling that if you put a good thing out there, good things will return back to you. To me, this is how I define good luck. Running the business is always a surprise! Even now, after all these years, I’m still encountering surprises in day-to-day operations. A lot of things can happen anytime without predictions. All you need to do is be prepared and stay positive.
Q: What is your menu’s most popular dish?
Our popular menu is Pad Thai, which as many know, it’s a very popular street-vendor food in Thailand. We also offer wide range menu of sushi items.
Q: What advice would give women who want to become leaders in the restaurant industry?
Stay positive! With a great, can-do attitude, you can conquer any challenge. Also, the key ingredient is never stop learning. As business grows, there is always a new trend or development to master. My advice is to do everything to keep your business in a competitive advantage level. This is a good way to sustain in any businesses. — Emshika uses Boxerbrand’s Slenders menu cover presentation at Chang Thai Café.