Ruam Mit Thai officially reopens at Fifth and Wabasha streets in downtown St. Paul

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When Mark Khaopraseuth and Nia Rasavong learned their family-run restaurant would be leveled into a parking lot, the husband-and-wife co-owners decided there was one thing they would not do, and that was leave downtown St. Paul.

“It’s where everybody knows us,” said Rasavong, who bought the decades-old Ruam Mit Thai location at Seventh and St. Peter streets from a previous owner in 2018. The Thai and Laotian restaurant, known for its curries, stir fries, chicken satay skewers in peanut sauce and glass-noodle-stuffed chicken wings, was out of the building by the end of last August, not long before the Assumption Church tore down the structure as part of an expansion project.

Ruam Mit offers a variety of traditional Thai and Lao foods, including green papaya salad (front) and laab gai, made with ground chicken (rear) and served with soup and sticky rice, shown here on Nov. 10, 2022. (Jared Kaufman / Pioneer Press)

Ruam Mit Thai, a downtown staple since the late 1980s under three different sets of owners from two families, had been expected to make a quick transition to the old Dunn Brothers spot at Fifth and Wabasha St., which went vacant in the summer of 2020. Instead, after lengthy permitting, construction and supply chain delays, the couple threw open the doors for an official grand opening on Thursday afternoon, some 10 months after departing their previous locale.

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, City Council Member Rebecca Noecker and a who’s who of visibly excited city employees were there to greet them.

“You took your time to put the details into this space,” said Carter, at the microphone, congratulating one of the latest arrivals to a downtown corridor that has struggled with some vacancies along Fifth Street in particular.

The restaurant, which received a $48,000 Neighborhood STAR grant to help with the transition, now operates out of the city-owned Infor/Lawson Commons building, sharing a relatively busy block on one side with the Amsterdam Bar and Hall and on the other with Starbucks and Chipotle.

Employees of Bremer Bank, who office in the same building a few levels up, and the St. Paul Port Authority, who had helped scout locations, also were on hand Wednesday to welcome their newest neighbors. The restaurant’s glassy storefront offers a clear view across Wabasha Street to the Osborn370 building, a former Ecolab office tower that has enjoyed a second life attracting start-ups, nonprofits and other private sector tenants.

Also present was Suthavilay Vongkhamdeng, daughter of Ruam Mit Thai founder Boonhao Suvanphim, who launched the restaurant at its original location in the Colonnade Apartments on St. Peter Street around 1989, only to die three years later, leaving his three daughters to carry on the family’s culinary legacy without him.

In 2018, when it became time to sell, Vongkhamdeng chose to pass the torch to Khaopraseuth, who had befriended her son during their years together at Dakota County Technical College.

“He’s just like my son,” she said on Wednesday, giving Ruam Mit Thai’s co-owner a warm hug.

Said Rasavong, “We’re proud to be part of St. Paul’s diversity in dining.”

The restaurant’s hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday. See for more information.

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