This is not how Parnass Lim Savang and Rod Lassiter pictured the opening day for their new Summerhill Thai restaurant, Talat Market, debuting tonight for takeout on Ormond Street. But the veteran pop-up chefs are used to pivoting at a moment’s notice and making last-minute adjustments.
Talat Market first appeared on the Atlanta dining scene in April 2017, popping up at Gato in Candler Park three nights a week, following the departure of chef Jarrett Stieber’s pop-up, Eat Me Speak Me. Stieber recently opened Little Bear on neighboring Georgia Avenue, just north of Talat Market in Summerhill.
Located inside an old neighborhood store, Talat Market seats 45 people between its dining room and large, boat-shaped bar, with additional seating for up to 15 people on the covered patio out front. Savang describes the dining room as a mixture of Thai and American aesthetics, with a mural by Atlanta artist Christina Kwan. The chefs eventually plan to serve a menu of 12 to 15 Thai and Thai-inspired dishes, featuring soups, salads, relishes, curries, stir-fries, and desserts, along with a couple of larger entrees and late-night street food.
While the pandemic may have changed their plans, Savang and Lassiter see the restaurant opening for takeout as just another challenge to tackle.
“We’ve done a variety of pop-ups now, and each restaurant we’ve worked at over the last three years has its own set of stipulations and challenges,” Savang tells Eater Atlanta. “We’re flexible and used to making it work because of those past experiences.”
For now, the restaurant is taking preorders for family-style takeout meals. Dinners are $50 for two people, and comprise of six dishes, like geng jeut het (pork and shrimp sausage with glass noodles), crispy rice, and geng deng (red curry), and a dessert, such as khao tom mud or grilled banana sticky rice with coconut cream. There’s also the option to add cocktail-making kits, with all the ingredients needed to make specific drinks using alcohol from the home bar.
The chefs say they don’t plan to open the dining room anytime soon, opting instead to follow the advice of the CDC on how and when that should safely occur. Lassiter feels it may not happen until June.
“Once we came to terms with the fact that this was how we were going to open, we decided to rise up to the challenge and just do the most creative takeout Thai food we can for people to take home,” Savang says. “There’s a market for the kind of Thai food I want to eat as takeout, and that’s what we’re focusing on for now, before we open the dining room.”
Orders can be placed up to two days prior to pickup, and weekly menus are listed online with time slots spaced out in 15-minute increments to allow people to practice social distancing. Other than Savang and Lassiter and their staff of three — general manager Samantha Burkhart, beverage director Adrian Fessenden-Kroll, and cook David Sender — no one is allowed inside the restaurant. Everyone is required to wear masks and gloves during their shifts.
The pair are encouraging curbside pickup, asking people to remain in their cars when they arrive. People who choose to walk up to grab their orders must stand in a roped-off section of the patio, and at a six-foot distance from others.
Despite the anxiety and confusion of opening their new restaurant for takeout during a pandemic, Lassiter finds a silver lining and looks forward to the day he and Savang can serve people in the dining room.
“You’ve got to start somewhere. This is a bit unchartered territory for us. For now, takeout will be cut and dry, but we hope to expand the menu and be able to accommodate people with dietary restrictions soon,” he says. “The goal is to actually feel like we’re open. When this pandemic ends, and we can open fully and bring more staff in, we’ve already gotten our feet wet.”
Open Wednesday- Sunday, 5 p.m to 8 p.m.
112 Ormond Street, Atlanta. talatmarketatl.com.
Stay home if sick. Check the Georgia Department of Public Health website for guidance and twice-daily updates on the latest number of reported COVID-19 cases.