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All Hell Breaks Loose: Chef Kyla Phomsavanh Kicked Out of Thairiffic, His Family’s Restaurant

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All Hell Breaks Loose: Chef Kyla Phomsavanh Kicked Out of Thairiffic, His Family’s Restaurant

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Thairrific, a restaurant which was opened in 2001 by Kyla Phomsavanh’s parents, is now at the center of major drama. On its website, ex-Thairrific Chef Kyla Phomsavanh writes:

For our loyal customers, Chef Kyla (myself) and Family (Original owners that started and built Thairrific 10 years ago) would like to thank you for coming to Thairrific.

However, due to changes internally.

My Family, Wonderful Wait Staff, and my loyal Cooks will no longer be present at Cedars Springs.

Phomsavanh was running the family-owned business until longtime regular customer Daniel Sikora bought the restaurant with his company, Crucial Pickles LLC, in December 2010. Sikora played the role of an investor and handled the marketing side, while Phomsavanh managed and cooked. All was going well until six months after Thairrific moved to its current Cedar Springs location. On May 2,  (what Phomsavanh thought would be) a negotiations meeting turned into a private ousting.

Jump for it.

In late April, Phomsavanh noticed that something wasn’t financially making sense. The move to Cedar Springs was creating a steady stream of customers – more than they ever had at the old location – which meant that the restaurant should’ve also been generating more revenue. Oddly, that wasn’t happening. Phomsavanh decided to confront his business partner Sikora. “I got to the point where I was like, I’m working 82-84 hours a week, I’m putting all this many hours here, so why is there no money because I know we’re generating a lot of money. I’m not accusing you, but I want to start cutting costs. First and foremost, we don’t need an accountant here cutting paychecks. Our POS system manages our employees’ hours already, and we use ADP as our pay roll processing.”

Phomsavanh also noted the fact that Sikora’s accountant was getting paid more than he, a man who says he worked tirelessly to keep customers happy. Since the partnership wasn’t working out, Phomsavanh offered to buy Sikora’s share of Thairrific from him. Ten days later, at a business meeting, Sikora showed up unexpectedly to the negotiations with a lawyer and served the surprised Phomsavanh some legal documents that fired the manager and told him to leave the property that same day. “We had a number of philosophical differences on how business should be run, and I was really just not going to be able to work under the ethics that he wanted to work under,” says Sikora. As to what ethics Sikora is referring to, he chooses not to discuss.

“He brought in a new chef within an hour after terminating me. The new chef, to my surprise, has all my recipes, too, which I’ve never sold or given rights to,” says Phomsavanh, who is now planning to get a catering business up and running. Sikora states that he’s currently “consulting with an actual chef (grad of California Culinary Institute) instead of a self-taught cook who has no formal training [Phomsavanh].”

The abrupt change in management left the Thai restaurant in a pickle. Three kitchen cooks and six of the waitstaff left Thairrific with Phomsavanh. The restaurant was closed for two days. Thairrific hasn’t been open late nights on Friday and Saturday like usual (Sikora says they will open again when they get a liquor license), and they are also now closed on Mondays for six weeks.

“Let’s just say, I don’t want it [Thairrific] now,” says Phomsavanh. “They’re not a war horse like I am.”

Sikora has plans to change Thairrific’s name later this summer so that it is no longer associated with the Phomsavanh family.