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Meet Chai Siriyarn of San Francisco Marnee Thai Restaurants – Restaurateur of the Quarter

By in 2022 - Volume 24

Meet our latest RESTAURATEUR OF THE QUARTER:

Chai Siriyarn of
San Francisco
Marnee Thai Restaurants

Restaurant Realty recently completed a Real Estate transaction (Restaurant & Residential Unit + Building) at 885-887 4th Street in San Rafael (last week’s featured done deal!). Congrats Chai!

When Chai Siriyarn opened his celebrated Marnee Thai restaurant in San Francisco in 1986, he hoped to give his patrons a taste of Thai cuisine and culture so transporting that they could enjoy the country’s wonders without ever having to leave the neighborhood. His plan worked. And yet more than twenty years on, Chef Chai’s artistry and balanced hand with Thailand’s inimitable cuisine may in fact have sent just as many newly minted Thai-food enthusiasts to his homeland as they’ve brought through his restaurant door. Perhaps that’s because of Chef Chai’s infectious enthusiasm for Thai cooking, both in its simplest home style, as well as in the tradition of its royal courts. Marnee Thai is a very personal operation, a labor of love that’s a capstone to a life lived in celebration of food. Bangkok born and bred, Chef Chai grew up in a culinary family and spent his childhood steeped in the restaurant business. Having learned to cook at his mother’s knee–herself a master chef of Central Thai cuisine–Chef Chai determined not only to continue in his family’s craft, but to extend its reach to the United States.

At the time of its opening in 1986, Thai food was just a blip on the radar screen of most diners. But in short – order–and in no small part thanks to Marnee’s regional Thai interpretations the city’s denizens developed a love for Thai flavors that reflects Marnee’s rank as one of the premier places to savor Thai cuisine outside the country itself. Even in San Francisco’s crowded restaurant field, Marnee Thai continues to stand out. Its “secret ingredients” are the forty-plus years’ of culinary experience that Chef Chai has collected. That experience has given him an instinctual feel for balancing aromas and flavors. They’ve taught him there’s no such thing as a minor detail. And most importantly, they’ve kindled in him a heartfelt passion that translates into everything he puts on his menu.

Chef Chai’s accolades include winning the Superchef contests both in Los Angeles and in Thailand. He was also named International Chef of the Year at the Awards of the Americas at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Chef Chai had the supreme honor of serving as guest chef to the Royal Thai Embassy at a United States-Thailand Amity for Charity Foundation tsunami relief benefit. Among the guests at the gala dinner were celebrities, U.S. senators, and the prince and princess of Thailand. Chef Chai has appeared as a guest
chef and educator at the Culinary Institute of America, CA. Chef Chai has made guest appearances at University of Massachusetts, Cornell, and Stanford University. He also received the Master Chef award from the American Academy of Taste in Las Vegas. As Thailand Superchef, he’s taken on an ambassadorial role, bringing Thai culture to audiences around the world. He is the author of the cookbook Thai Cuisine Beyond Curry, which includes traditional recipes as well as updated classics. ​

With such laurels to Chef Chai’s credit, it’s no wonder that Marnee Thai has held a spot among the top-five Bay Area Thai restaurants in the San Francisco Zagat Survey for over 20 years running and is recommended in the San Francisco Michelin Guide (2011-14). Marnee Thai has also received the Thai Select Award from the Thai government as one of the best Thai restaurants overseas. Chef Chai lives in San Francisco with his wife, May, and his two sons, Kasidit and Kevin, who are prepared to take over the business in the near future.​

Restaurant Realty wishes Chef Chai and May continued success in their new venture.

Now celebrating our 26th year, Restaurant Realty Company® has a successful track record helping over 2,800 clients in completing Hundreds of Millions of Dollars of Business and Real Estate Transactions including the following: Selling / leasing over 1,400 restaurant, bar and/or nightclub businesses, Selling over 50 related commercial buildings,  Leasing over 2.8 Million square feet of commercial space and Completing over 4,500 valuations. The majority of our staff have either owned and/or managed restaurants. Our deep experience as operators means we understand your business from the inside out. Restaurant Realty has Closed Escrow and/or Leased 200+ Deals during Covid!

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