Love & Thai (4821 E. Butler Ave. in Fresno, at the northeast corner of Chestnut Avenue) picked up where his Tasty Thai left off.
Tasty Thai operated at First and Belmont, but closed down in May for safety reasons after racist messages were left about the restaurant on social media. The message perpetuated untrue Asian stereotypes tying in Rasavong’s eatery.
“Today’s our grand opening, but for me today, it marks the end of a chapter that was filled with hate and the beginning of a new one that is filled with love,” Rasavong said at the opening.
Rasavong recalled the morning when social media comments were directed toward him and his family, filled with “hate and anger.”
“I remember waking up my wife and said, hey, I think we have a problem. And then I also remember calling my brother and saying, hey, I think I need your help. And then when we realized how bad it got, I remember talking to my parents and saying, Hey, I don’t think we can open today,” Rasavong recalled during Friday’s grand opening.
Despite the hardship, Rasavong received messages of encouragement, not just locally, but globally as well. The community reached out with love and support, and Rasavong rebounded with his new Love and Thai.
“The amount of love and kindness that we receive, that’s something that I do wish upon everyone. I wish that everybody could feel what we have felt once the word got out and the support that we received,” Rasavong said.
Fresno City Councilman Luis Chavez said he admired Rasavong’s tenacity and not letting the haters upset his life.
“This is a story about resilience,” Chavez said. “What was really inspiring is that because of something negative and nasty that occurred, something beautiful was born.”
On the Menu
Love & Thai calls itself a Lao-Thai kitchen with a menu that reflects southeast Asian cuisine.
The by-number menu can be ordered at the counter and offers more than 50 dishes. Choices include several noodle combinations; traditional — such as Lao beef jerky — Laab chicken, beef, and fish; specialty plates such as basil and curry dishes; with sides like rice and sausage.
Love & Thai offers several tables to enjoy the meal, and there’s a mural depicting the Rasavong immigrant family journey — traveling through San Francisco to Fresno.
“I love the mural that you have inside because it symbolizes the history of the immigrant story in our community,” Chavez said.
(Correction: an earlier version of this story identified the dancers as Hmong. They are Lao.)