Deborah DeMeyer showed up on The Emerald of Siam’s first day in business, back in the early 1980s. She’d never tried Thai food before and wanted a taste.
She was immediately hooked.
“It’s so spicy, delicious. I’m an Okie, so you’d think my comfort food would be something southern. But it’s my go-to place,” DeMeyer said.
She also praised the atmosphere of the restaurant and lounge in the Uptown Shopping Center, calling it “a wonderful place.”
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It’s the kind of spot that feels like family, she said.
Perhaps because it’s run by one.
Siblings Dara and Billy Quinn took over Emerald from their mother, Ravadi, who retired a few years back and moved back to Bangkok.
Emerald has been a popular restaurant over its 30-plus years in business, and it’s also become one of the Tri-Cities’ premier live music venues, booking acts from rock bands, to punk, jazz, bluegrass and everything in between.
But operating a business and music venue can be tough, and the Quinns are looking for a little help to make some improvements. The restaurant and lounge gets by, but there isn’t much capital for that kind of work.
They’ve launched a $50,000 fundraising campaign for upgrades from a new outdoor awning and/or front windows for climate control to some kitchen fixes. The campaign will run through May.
“We are looking for just a little bit of a boost on the bottom line,” Dara Quinn said. “When you improve the comfort in here, people will enjoy being here more.”
Ravadi opened Emerald with her sister in 1983, using a grant from their parents. She became well-known in the Tri-Cities, penning two cookbooks and a book of poetry.
Her kids have put their own mark on Emerald, adding a full bar and a stage.
Dara Quinn is a former touring musician, and she began booking bands to play there more than 10 years ago after moving back home.
“I like good music, no matter the genre,” she said.
Music lovers in the Tri-Cities said she’s done a lot for the local scene.
“It’s a gem,” said Greg McLain, a local business owner and music lover. “To have this in front of us like this — it’s way better than television. Music is pure spirit. The biggest share of anything else is front of us is fear. There’s no fear with music.
“What she brings in — they’re people who make their own music. They’re artists. It amazes me,” McLain said.
Steve Carver, a jazz pianist who plays at Emerald regularly, added that the place “gives a lot of musicians a chance to interact” through the regular jam sessions and other events.
“I’m sure that’s how some bands get hooked up,” he said. “This is one of the biggest venues, if not the biggest venue, in the area.”
Emerald also gives back to the community.
Recently, for example, Dara Quinn helped put together a fundraiser for the family of Tom Gnoza, a Tri-City music luminary who died unexpectedly. DeMeyer, Gnoza’s aunt, said that meant a lot.
Emerald of Siam has “really became a nice community oasis for culture and good food and good people,” Dara Quinn said. “My mom counseled a lot of people. She really got to know her customers really well. There have been generations of families who have come here.
To the community, it’s been a nice place with good quality food and a nice, loving atmosphere.”
She wants to see that continue for years to come, she said.
To learn more about the campaign or contribute, go to www.gofundme.com/emeraldboost.