For Christine Vang, the busy part of her day starts when she gets home. This is because she and her family not only run a restaurant, but have their own frozen food line as well.
The Vang family may have started with small with a restaurant in Dearborn, but now their food is accessible anywhere. With their newly successful frozen food company, Thai Feast is sweeping the nation.
The frozen food idea was talked about amongst the family, but it remained just an idea for a while; until the Vang family decided to make it a reality.
While Christine plays a small role in her family’s business, the majority of the work falls on her sister, Tower alumni ’02, Caroline Vang-Polly, and her brother, Tower alumni ‘08 and former soccer coach, Steven Vang.
“Our mom, Genevieve, and I had the idea of selling one of our restaurant items for a few years. After high school, I was helping out at our restaurant called Bangkok 96 in Dearborn. I took orders and cashed customers out. It wasn’t until I left the other jobs I was working that I realized bigger opportunities were in front of me. Knowing that my mom needed my help, I finally made up my mind to dedicate my time and effort with this frozen project,“ Caroline Vang-Polly, Tower alumni, said.
With products inspired from their restaurant menu, the food was sure to be a hit…and very authentic. Their food options include Pad Woon Sen, Pad Thai, and Pad Se’ew. The products started to gain some positive attention, and stores all over the U.S. are selling Thai Feast.
“A&P/Pathmark stores on the East Coast were the first chains to take us in. Next, Whole Foods in Northern California signed us up. After that, we concentrated on Metro Detroit stores. We started selling inside our restaurant, and then Hiller’s Market and Westborn-Dearborn took our products. Now, Joe’s Produce, Market Fresh, and Market Square too!” Caroline adds.
Though the Vangs were already in the food business, the production and manufacturing of a frozen food product was a completely different scenario from cooking in a kitchen.
“A production facility helps manufacture for us. The hardest part of starting out was taking the restaurant food and converting it to commercial formulas,” Caroline said.
While the process is very complex and there’s so much to do to keep up with the business, it’s not too bad since everyone in the family contributes to the company. Christine plays a smaller role in the business; she mostly helps out at the restaurant and does demos for Thai Feast over the weekends.
“Everyone in the family plays an important role. The ideas are always flowing! Everyone helps out with demos at the Michigan stores. This is the only good way to let shoppers taste our products,” Caroline comments.
It takes a while for a business to become successful, especially with all of the expenses to get it up and running. Without their restaurant, Bangkok 96, the Vang family may not have been involved in the frozen food business.
“The restaurant makes it possible to help pay for Thai Feast production and marketing. It’s been almost 2 years and we expect to see profit this year,” Caroline said.
The Thai Feast frozen food line continues to grow and spread their authentic Thai cuisine all over the nation.
“We want to expand into more restaurants. Thai Feast will come out with more frozen products. The success of Bangkok 96 and Thai Feast will be able to contribute back to the community!” Caroline added.
The amount of hard work that goes into such businesses can greatly impact the lives of those involved. Christine Vang says that the family business, however, has positively affected her life.
“It has taught me to never give up on things you dream of doing and it has also made me prepared for the future ahead of me in the business world of competition,” Christine said.
While the family business has been a success and a huge part of her family’s lives, Christine decides to travel her own path.
“I plan to take some parts in the family business, but again I know I would like to take a different route than my older siblings and parents. My family has become dream catchers and I would love to continue catching dreams by learning from the business.”