Dream big and build your empire in downtown Port Hope
Growing up in Thailand, young girls like Sammy prepare for the future by learning to cook and clean. Her life path changed dramatically when she met a Canadian working in Thailand. She married him and moved to Canada, settling in Prince Edward County in Eastern Ontario.
As a new Canadian she worked hard to learn English, earning a scholarship from the federal government to pursue second language education. She found a job as a cook at a Chinese restaurant in Oshawa and travelled back and forth along the 401 without taking much notice of Port Hope’s two off-ramps.
But as she drove she dreamed. She imagined opening her own Thai Restaurant one day, tailoring the recipes to reflect Canadian preferences for slightly sweeter, less spicy, less salty versions of her traditional dishes.
One day in 2006 she turned in at Port Hope and crested the hill eastbound on Walton Street. She was overcome with conviction. This would be the place.
Her first stop was the Economic Development office where she met Judy Selvig.
“She told me about heritage grants for my building and the permits I would need. I couldn’t read the English forms so Judy read the forms to me so I could fill them out. She didn’t have to do that for me.”
With permits and plans in place Sammy used a personal loan to secure a lease and spent the Christmas and New Year’s holiday painting and readying the tired space to create a sense of balance and harmony through use of traditional art and cultural décor.
Her friends and families cautioned that a small town would have no appetite for exotic fare. But the warm reception Sammy received soon proved her vision.
The restaurant opened in January 2007 to rave reviews and has become a beacon of business success.
Sammy’s drive and vision prevails still. In the past few years she’s opened additional locations east of the GTA selling some as turn-key operations.
“Port Hope is the one though,” she says. “I live here too. This is where I feel at home.”