Friday, July 19, 2013

Eden Prairie Opening Celebrates Sawatdee’s 30-year History

By Phyllis Louise Harris
July 2013

July 9th marked the official ribbon cutting ceremony at Sawatdee’s latest Thai restaurant in Eden Prairie. Just 30 years ago Supenn Harrison and her sister Gat Jones opened the first Sawatdee Thai restaurant in St. Paul.  In the ensuing years Supenn opened Sawatdee restaurants in Minneapolis, Bloomington, St. Cloud, Maple Grove and now Eden Prairie.

Supenn’s initial commercial Thai food offering was at the 1976 State Fair where Sue’s Egg Rolls introduced Minnesotans to Thai cooking. It was not an immediate success with just a few egg rolls sold on the first day.  Then a few more on the second day and as each day went by the numbers increased until by the end of the ten-day fair Supenn knew she had a winner.  She continued the booth for a total of twenty-five years until the fair board decided Thai egg rolls were no longer novelty items.

By 1979 Supenn could see the interest in Thai food growing and purchased the Gopher Grill on Lake Street in Minneapolis.  Within two years she changed the name to the Siam Café and introduced a full Thai menu.  As the café’s popularity grew so did the need for more space and after selling the café she opened the first Sawatdee in 1983.

Sawatdee has been a family business from the start with her husband Bruce Harrison handling the business side and eventually their daughters Jennifer and Cynthia working in both the fair booth and now in the Sawatdee restaurants.  In addition one sister helped her open the initial St. Paul location and another operates the St. Cloud Sawatdee.

Sawatdee Eden Prairie has a full bar and outdoor patio overlooking a sparkling pond and the rolling hills beyond.  The menu includes Sawatdee favorites with lunch specials and a variety of rice bowls that may be topped with an egg, sunny side up.

For additional information go to or call the Eden Prairie restaurant at 952-641-5777.  It is located at 13300 Technology Drive in Eden Prairie with free parking at the door.

Read more about Asian food in Minnesota and try some of Supenn’s recipes in Asian Flavors: Changing the Tastes of Minnesota since 1875, now in bookstores and on
Buy online:  Asian Flavors: Changing the Tastes of Minnesota since 1875