Nikky Phinyawatana spent her early years in Bangkok, Thailand, before moving to Dallas and graduating from Hockaday in 1996. She earned a bachelor’s in business administration with a focus on entrepreneurship at Babson College in Massachusetts, then returned to Dallas and attended the culinary school at El Centro College. Her Asian Mint restaurants, which offer “New Bangkok-style” cuisine, have quickly gained a loyal following—and earned her an invitation to prepare dinner at the James Beard House Foundation in New York City.
How are you coping amid the COVID-19 crisis?
We are a company of hard–working people who are doing everything we can to stay safe while feeding souls. We have realized more than ever that we are the community’s life source of joy and connection. Every day we are getting guests thanking us for staying open but not opening our dining rooms until it’s safe to do so. Our values are in alignment with them, and we feed each other’s souls.
Did your business continuity plan work, or were there surprises?
We have flipped our business model 180 degrees and had to put new systems and processes in place, as well as launch a whole new product line of Chef Mint meal prep kits and pantry items. We’ve had happy surprises with positive feedback from the community.
Have you found silver linings in these uncertain times?
We have found that our team is stronger than ever, and this has bonded us even more, living out our values of Modernization, Inspiration, Nurture, and Teamwork (MINT).
How are you maintaining your company culture?
We have increased our manager meetings weekly, in addition to daily check-ins to be readily available with ongoing encouragement and system management. With extra communication, we are able to keep spirits high as we navigate new territories.
Do you have advice for other local business leaders?
I would encourage other leaders to stay positive and lead the way with the safety of your staff as the No. 1 concern, uphold your values by model and be transparent. We are all in this together. Also, continue to keep open communication with your customers.