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The Barstool Fund - Sisters Thai Cafe

Up next: Sisters Thai Cafe (Rockford, IL)

Locally owned and a family operated restaurant, Sisters Thai Cafe serves authentic Thai and Laos food. Everything is made fresh to order with their famous family recipes.

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Reader Email

Dear BarstoolFund,

Hello! This is Megan Sengchannavon
g and I am writing on behalf of my parent’s restaurant, Sisters Thai Cafe in Rockford, IL.

In 2007, my father had a terrible accident that left him paralyzed from waist down. With many trips to the hospital hours away from home, my mom was unable to maintain a job. My family struggled for many years and lost our home to foreclosure. My mom jumped from job to job trying to make ends meet, managing a local bakery to eventually becoming a chef at a local restaurant. Her passion has always been cooking. While she was working 10-12 hours, 7 days a week, my father fell into a deep depression from loneliness being home all day alone.

Fast forward to 2013, my parents saved up and decided to open their own restaurant so my mom could pursue her dream for cooking while my dad could go to work with her everyday; this way they wouldn’t have to spend so much time apart. They named it after my sister and I, Sisters Thai Cafe. We opened our restaurant in a bad area, inside a hotel with not much traffic, but it was the only rent we could afford at the time. We started with no employees. My mom cooked, I served the food, and my dad sat at the front to greet/seat people. We did this for three years to build our name and save enough to move into a better location. After three years, the hotel our restaurant was located in was being demolished. We were devastated thinking this would be the end of our restaurants journey, but little did we know our customers didn’t want us to close just as much as we didn’t want to close. With the help of some business loans, we signed a new lease in the heart of our city - Downtown Rockford. This was a huge move for us, and our rent increased to triple the amount, but my parents never gave up. They worked their way up, they were dedicated, they were persistent, and they have heart. With the traffic downtown, we were able to make ends meet, stay afloat enough to pay our bills, and finally in 2019 we weren’t in the negatives at the end of the year. We were so proud; so proud of what we built, how much we’ve accomplished, and we were excited for the future. My parents were able to help put me through nursing school and were even able to buy a two bedroom condo for themselves and finally move out of my grandparent. We now were finally able to afford three cooks to help in the back, and we had around 12 servers.

Then.. COVID19 happened. Like many other restaurants, we are struggling. And we are struggling hard. My parents lost a few employees because they were making more money on unemployment, which we understood. Our servers couldn’t even make tips because we aren’t allowed to have anyone dine in. My parents have yet to let anyone go because they know the struggle of not having a job right now, so they are struggling to make ends meet while trying to provide jobs to our well deserved employees. Both of our dishwashers were homeless that we took in, one of which my mom allowed to live at our restaurant for a few months until he could get his life figured out. My parents are so giving, and would give their last $10 to anyone who needed it. They would never ask for help so I am asking on behalf of them! These last 6 months have been especially hard not being able to have dine-in services. Our income has decreased by more than half, and we are scared we will have to close our doors soon with the struggle of not being able to afford rent.

This opportunity for help would be so greatly appreciated, in ways words could not explain. To keep our restaurant open would mean keeping my family together, a roof over our heads, and delicious thai food for the community! (can’t forget to add we have great thai food haha!!) If you could help us catch up with the last few months and with January’s rent/utilities, it would mean the world to us!!! It would help give us the push to get back on our feet. Please please consider and thank you so much for reading our story!

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