HOLDEN – Achara “Fawn” Weydt, owner and founder of Brown Rice and four other Thai restaurants in central Massachusetts, will be opening a new location at the old local restaurant on Main Street.
Local owners Elena Viapiano and her father, Nic Viapiano, sold the restaurant after nearly 20 years of activity on the site.
Weydt said she hopes to open her new restaurant – Thai House of Holden – in February.
She said it will take a few weeks to redo the interior and add new exterior signage.
The restaurant will seat 70 to 80 customers and will be open seven days a week. Once open, she expects the hours to be 11:30 am to 9 pm on weekdays and until 10 pm on weekends. .
She is currently working to have The Local’s liquor license transferred to the Thai restaurant, she said.
While some might find it courageous to start a new business amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Holden restaurant will be the second Weydt has opened since the virus struck.
Weydt said she has learned to leverage social media to attract clients and has worked hard to adapt to the changes needed for a business to survive the pandemic. She also credited her team, including her mother, a niece and the 30 or so employees who work in the five restaurants she currently owns.
Originally from Thailand, Weydt said she believes the popularity of Thai food is increasing because Americans realize how healthy the offerings can be.
“Asian food is healthy,” she said. “There are soups, less fat and a lot of vegetables.” In New England, she said, spicy flavors and hot soups can relax you. It’s comfort food. “
Weydt – in some cases alongside business partners – owns Brown Rice Thai Cuisine and Brown Rice in both West Boylston, Thai Time and Rice Violet in Worcester, and Thai and I in Shrewsbury.
Thai House of Holden will be the sixth restaurant it owns and the eighth it opens.
She sold two restaurants, one in Rhode Island and the other in Clinton.
Weydt opened the second Brown Rice a few months ago with the intention of closing the first, which is a smaller restaurant. But after running both, she said she saw new customers at the original location, and many use delivery services like Grubhub or Uber Eats or order take-out there.
There were enough people that she decided to keep it open and could do a makeover to update the small dining room.
Weydt said she was always grateful to her niece who works with her and the members of her team, from waiters to chefs, who have made the restaurants so successful.
The former owners of The Local, the Viapianos, said they have mixed feelings about closing and selling their business.
Elena said her father was a huge Brown Rice fan and was thrilled to know Weydt would be opening a restaurant similar to Holden.
Weydt said there will be dishes familiar to his current customers and there will be new items as well.
“There will be new things, we will have a variety of Thai noodle soups,” she said.
Following: Father-daughter restaurateurs consider new business after The Local closes in Holden