The rough economic climate may have sent many businesses reeling, but some of those more resilient are showing compassion by extending a helping hand to those less fortunate.
Lum Ka Naad is one such business. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, the Thai eatery on Reseda Boulevard will be giving out free South East Asian dishes between 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Thursday in a symbolic act of gratitude and charity.
‘We have been in situations that we don’t have food to eat,’ said Lum Ka Naad owner, Alex Sonbalee.
The 44-year-old described the difficulties he and his family faced back in Thailand, being on the brink of poverty and the obstacles they encountered upon moving to the U.S. ‘We are first generation immigrants,’ said Sonbalee. ‘We understand how difficult the economic climate is.’
Sonbalee said that opening up the restaurant’s kitchen to the public has been an idea roughly a year in the making.
‘At this point this business is getting more stable, we want to make sure people know it is for anyone, not just the homeless,’ he said.
Sonbalee said he could relate to those grappling with financial uncertainty.
‘This is our first restaurant,’ said Sonbalee, a practicing Buddhist. ‘This will be our third year, it was very difficult when it started, we have been through all kinds of stuff. It’s the only investment we have.’
Sonbalee described the gamble he and his wife made, how the both of them had to ‘pull money from home’ to get the business running. Back then, he said it was either all or nothing.
‘I told myself the first year, that if I made it, I would do something good. I have been thinking about this since last year, I didn’t realize I would have this day,’ he said.
Asked if he himself did feel the sting of the economic crisis, Sonbalee said, ‘It’s just five to seven hundred for the supplies, the rest is labor.’
Yves Didier is a regular of Lum Ka Naad and will be volunteering Thursday.
The former German news correspondent turned police officer said he was inspired to volunteer by the Sonbalees’ work ethic.
‘I have seen how hard Alex and his wife have been working over time, he and his wife are extremely hard workers,’ said Didier.
Didier said he was a regular at the restaurant even before the Sonbalees took it over. He described how he and a group of other regulars who met at the restaurant regularly over the last year formed a friendship that included the Sonbalees, and that this was another reason why he was driven to volunteer.
‘I have never waited tables or worked in (the restaurant)’hellip;’ he said, but he offered help as soon as he heard of Sombalee’s plans.
Despite Didier’s self- described inexperience, he will be joining other volunteers in dishing out satay, roast chicken, pad thai and other South East Asian staples both ‘agrave; la carte and in take-away packages.
‘People can feel free to sit in or they can come grab a box,’ Sonbalee said.
As a parting message, Sonbalee said, ‘We are giving back to the community; it is because of them we are able to survive.’ Sonbalee said students were probably those most affected by hard economic times and he encouraged CSUN students to drop by.
Lum-Ka-Naad Thai Restaurant is located on 8920 Reseda Blvd.