PLATTSBURGH — Growing up in Thailand’s Nakhon Pathom province, Plattsburgh was probably the last place Supanee Gilbert thought she’d end up.
But now Gilbert, who co-owns the Sawatdee Thai restaurant in downtown Plattsburgh with Samitra Nelson, said she’s never been happier.
Gilbert moved to San Francisco in 1998 to pursue an education in fashion design, and met her future husband, William, there.
From there, the couple moved to Southern California and began planning their future.
Since his family lived in Barre, Vermont, William wanted to relocate to the Northeast.
“I’m from Thailand, a very warm country,” Gilbert said. “I heard it’s cold for six months in Vermont and I thought, ‘oh no, no, no.’”
Gilbert found more than a long winter awaiting her in the North Country, though.
“After you are used to living in a big city, this area is relaxed,” Gilbert said. “I adjusted to the weather, and now I love the four seasons.”
These days, Gilbert and her husband are happy they can raise their two boys in a safe community.
“In California, I always heard about people doing bad things,” Gilbert said. “Out there, your child has to be next to you all the time. I came here, and now I feel more relaxed about raising a child.”
Even though Gilbert left some of the risks of California behind, she took a new risk when her business partner suggested opening a Thai restaurant in Plattsburgh.
To their knowledge, the small city had never seen anything like it, and they both wondered how people would respond.
There was only one way to find out — the Gilberts moved to Plattsburgh and Supanee and her partner opened Sawatdee.
That was four years ago this August, and Gilbert said the business is still doing well.
“It’s a little bit hard to introduce something people don’t know,” Gilbert said. “People think Thai and they think spicy, but it doesn’t have to be that way.”