Richland Thai restaurant celebrates 30 years

Loretto J. Hulse, Tri-City HeraldOctober 13, 2013 

Emerald Owners

Dara Quinn and her brother Billy Quinn, co-owners of The Emerald of Siam in Richland, are celebrating the 30th anniversary of their restaurant this month with music and special Thai food buffets October 17-18.

RICHARD DICKIN — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

During the past 30 years, the Emerald of Siam restaurant has become an icon in the Tri-Cities.

It was founded in October 1983 by sisters Ravadi Quinn and Sunanta Kulthol in the Uptown Shopping Center in Richland.

The Thai women converted what was a small caf in Thrifty Drug into a Thai restaurant, the first in the Tri-Cities.

Today, the sisters are retired and Quinn's children, Dara and Billy Quinn, own and run the restaurant and lounge.

The restaurant has evolved over the years. It grew from a tiny caf into a full-scale restaurant and, when the Quinn children took over, into one of the premier venues to hear the latest music.

Singer/songwriter Craig Anderson of Kennewick has been performing at the Emerald off and on for nearly two years.

"It's an amazing place and wonderful that Dara provides this opportunity for local musicians to showcase their original music and song," Anderson said.

In addition to bringing in local talent, Anderson said, "Dara does an amazing job of bringing in top-notch, unique acts drawn from throughout the Northwest. You can hear everything from alternative music, to punk, to country, to bluegrass. The variety and quality is wonderful."

Dara Quinn said she and her younger brother literally grew up in the restaurant.

"I began waiting tables when I was 10 years old and he helped off and on too," she said.

The food is what made the Emerald of Siam famous throughout the Tri-Cities.

A self-taught cook, Ravadi Quinn started the "restaurant" in her home.

"She'd invite people to come to her house for a Thai banquet. That's really where she started," said Jerry Greenfield of Richland.

That was in the early 1980s. Greenfield, who owned a personal computer, kept her mailing list updated.

"She'd call every few months, give me some updates, and I'd print out the mailing labels. There were several hundred people on the list, so writing or typing them out would have been arduous," he said.

Greenfield said he and his wife, Corky, have had Thai food in other places but what Ravadi Quinn produced "was truly delicious."

Even though the founders have retired, the food hasn't changed at the Emerald.

The restaurant's main chef, Ma Vannapho, who moved to Richland from Thailand decades ago, is still cooking today.

"She's been here over 20 years and has no intention of retiring," Dara Quinn said.

The brother and sister never intended to take over the restaurant. But when their mother said she was retiring and returning to Thailand with their father, Garry, to live, both returned to the Tri-Cities.

"The Emerald of Siam is more than a restaurant, it's like home. It made us sad to think of it gone. We felt it was our duty to keep it alive," Dara Quinn said.

While the two have remodeled the interior -- opening it up more, adding a full bar and a stage for performers -- they didn't touch the menu.

"Ma's food is so good there's no reason to change. Besides, it would upset too many people," Dara Quinn said.

Dara and Billy Quinn are observing the restaurant's 30th anniversary with a three-day celebration from Oct. 17-19.

There will be special, expanded Thai food buffets.

They've booked musicians from the Tri-Cities, throughout the Northwest and even a jazz/rock band from New York City.

You can find the list of events on the Emerald's website, www.emeraldofsiam.com. Or check them out on Facebook.

The restaurant is at 1314 Jadwin Ave., Richland.

Phone: 946-9328.

-- To submit business news, go to bit.ly/bizformtch.

-- Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; lhulse@tricityherald.com

Tri-City Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service