Thai returns to Astoria

Sopa and Robert Burns recently opened Mai Tong Thai Food at the corner of 13th and Duane streets.

For the first time in several years, Astoria has a Thai food option.

Sopa and Robert Burns recently opened Mai Tong Thai Food, a new cart in the nascent pod of Astoria Station at the corner of 13th and Duane streets.

The food cart is the first foray into business ownership for the couple, who started saving several years ago, and the first Thai option in Astoria since Blue Ocean Thai Cuisine closed a few years ago.

“It was my dream to have a business,” Sopa Burns said of Mai Tong, a nod to her family’s name.

A native of northeastern Thailand, she has been working in the local food industry since marrying her husband and moving to the North Coast a decade ago. She most recently worked at Nisa’s Thai Kitchen in Warrenton and does all the cooking at Mai Tong.

“Everything we make is fresh,” said Robert Burns, who after retiring from nearly 30 years at Pig ’n Pancake largely works for his wife.

Sopa Burns wanted a restaurant, but the couple found fewer barriers to entry with a food cart. Getting the custom trailer built and running still took several months, but Mai Tong opened last week to more than 50 customers on the first day.

The food cart focuses on what’s popular, with Thai standbys including pad thai, fried rice, pad see ew and drunken noodles, while adding specialties like lemongrass chicken wings. Her dishes are made with gluten-free ingredients.

Looking for a spot, the two approached local real estate agent Peter Tadei, who connected them with Astoria Station’s Claudine Gregory, who has been trying to surround Reach Break Brewing and Reveille Ciderworks with food carts. Next to Mai Tong is Hot Box BBQ. Sasquatch Sausage recently left.

“You couldn’t ask for a better spot,” Robert Burns said, adding most of the customers seem to be locals who had been waiting for them to open.

Mai Tong operates from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday through Monday, mirroring the hours of Reach Break.

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