Mint Café, Popular Thai Restaurant, Ends 2010 by Closing its Doors
Lunch crowd was shocked to learn of Mint's demise
Michael Paxton drove all the way from Akron to have lunch Friday at Mint Café in Cleveland Heights.
If he had waited until another day, he would have been too late. The popular Thai restaurant shut down operations when the last diner left the building at 1791 Coventry Rd. Friday night.
Paxton, like most of the lunch crowd, learned about Mint's closing upon arrival. Most gasped and said, "You've got to be kidding," when members of the wait staff informed them of the news.
"Of all the restaurants, their closing seems crazy," Paxton said. "They're always busy. Their food is fantastic."
Paxton began eating at Mint — often — when it opened nearly five years ago and he worked in Cleveland. He continued dining there, although not as frequently, after moving to Akron.
"This is the first Thai restaurant I went to," he said.
He fell in love with Pad Thai Country Style and the "unbelievable potstickers" at Mint. He's visited other Thai eateries, but none measure up to Mint's authentic Thai cuisine.
Pad Thai Country Style, Thai Style Basil and Mango Curry have been the most requested items on the menu, according to Mint employee Vicky Sutti.
Owners Sunny and Matt Kanegkasikorn offer all three dishes at PepperMint Thai Cuisine, their newer, larger restaurant in Pepper Pike. Sutti believes that running back and forth between restaurants overwhelmed the couple, prompting them to close the one in the Heights. The Kanegkasikorns were unavailable for comment.
On Thursday, customers began forming a line at 11 a.m., a half hour before the doors opened for lunch. They apparently had heard rumors of Mint's pending demise. They weren't sure whether Mint would be open Friday and wanted one more meal.
Another restaurateur has expressed an interest in taking over the space at the corner of Coventry and Hampshire roads and opening a Thai and Chinese restaurant, said Sutti. She is convinced that the food would not be as good as Mint's fare.
"It's Chinese Thai, not Thai," she said.
Around a dozen Mint employees will be looking for new jobs. Yet they worry about regular customers who may show up next week, not knowing that lunch and dinner will no longer be served.
"I like the people; I like the food," said Paxton. "I had my going away party here when I went to Iraq (with the Army).
"I am so bummed about this. It's not the way to start the New Year."