After three years of pop-ups around Atlanta, chefs Parnass Savang and Rod Lassiter are opening their brick-and-mortar Thai restaurant, Talat Market, in Summerhill tonight. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Talat will serve takeout only Wednesday through Sunday “for the foreseeable future,” Savang says. The restaurant, named for the Thai word for “market,” will serve creative Thai-inspired fare using local ingredients.
“Prior to [the] pandemic, we had a different vision for our restaurant,” Savang says. “With this happening a month before our opening, we had time to brainstorm a different way to open that’s still true to us, exciting, fun, and delicious.”
The duo will prepare a maximum of 45 meals per night—each meal is $50 plus tax and is meant to be shared between two people—with preorders available starting at noon two days before intended pickup. And fans of the former pop-up are eager—Friday’s meals sold out in just seven minutes, and Saturday and Sunday’s meals sold out in five. (Be sure to log on Monday right at noon to place an order for Wednesday pickup.)
Each meal includes four savory dishes, jasmine rice, and dessert. For now, the dishes include pork broth with pork and shrimp sausage, glass noodles, wood ear mushrooms, and garlic oil; red curry with grilled asparagus, pineapple, spring onion in coconut cream; crispy pork belly with garlic chili sauce; crispy rice salad with beets, lettuce, and red chili jam dressing; and a grilled banana sticky rice dessert.
“Each set is carefully curated,” Savang says. “I put myself in the guests’ shoes and think about if I’d like [to eat] these dishes at home.”
Lassiter says the duo hopes to add a vegetarian option next week, and eventually a la carte items. Though Talat doesn’t yet have its liquor license, bar manager Adrian Fessenden-Knoll is selling cocktail kits sans alcohol for $6. Current offerings include a Pandan colada with fresh coconut cream, pineapple juice, Pandan leaf, and Thai basil. All patrons have to do is add gin or rum and shake with ice.
Patrons are asked to call the restaurant when they arrive in the parking lot, and their food will be delivered curbside.
“[Doing pop-ups], we’ve been thrown into so many situations and have gone to so many people’s restaurants and had to adapt to what they had. This is another challenge for us to adapt to,” Lassiter says.
One of the benefits of opening after the pandemic began, Savang says, is they didn’t have to furlough any of their staff. They are currently operating with a total of five team members.
“We get to get our feet wet first,” he says. “Plus, [by doing preorders], we know how busy we’ll be. We can fix problems a lot faster.”
As one might expect, opening a restaurant during a pandemic adds additional costs. “We definitely ate into our opening budget with about $5,000-$6,000 in unplanned expenses,” Lassiter says. “We had to get third party inspectors into the space when the city was shut down, and spent about $1,000 on compostable takeout containers.”
He added that the team also stocked up on masks, gloves, and ASW Distillery hand sanitizer.
However, the food remains true to the original Talat concept. “The dishes are not that different,” Savang says. “We were going to have 12-14 items total. We had to cut the menu in half, but we didn’t make any sacrifices as far as quality goes.”
“I’m ready to make takeout food for a while. It’ll be another year, probably, before we do dine-in,” Savang says.