No More Soup for You

Popular Thai Café closes after 30 years.

For 30 years, one of the most popular lunch destinations on campus was located in the psych building, where students, faculty and staff queued down the hall to get a meal in a cheap container with a plastic fork, and possibly to be chastised by the server for not ordering quickly enough.

Since 1987, the Thai Café had served nearly 300 lunches per day of hot chicken soup with fat, toothsome noodles; crunchy peanut salad with pink shrimp; and colorful vegetable fried rice. The café shuttered its single-window service on June 12.

According to Stanford News, owner Mykhanh Bahlman shut down due to an undisclosed family emergency, leaving customers surprised and saddened.

The School of Humanities and Sciences, which housed the Thai Café, plans to open a new eatery in the same location, says Joy Leighton, director of public relations for the school. “We will solicit a request for proposal from interested companies and will seek input from the campus community.”

Stories about the beloved café and Bahlman’s sometimes cranky but often generous manner surfaced immediately on social media, with former customers reminiscing about how she let them pay with an IOU if they didn’t have cash, or the time she handed out free chocolate chip cookies during the first week of school. If people got to the front of the line and asked a question or didn’t know what they wanted to order, they were at risk of being scolded by Bahlman, who was all about feeding everyone fast.

“End of an era!” wrote one customer upon hearing the news. “It was an institution for sure.” •