Remembering Tamarind founder Charlie Niyomkul, who never met a stranger – Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta, Georgia 2021-04-22 16:45:44 –

From left: Jeda Niyomkul, DeeDee Niyomkul, Aran Downes, Charlie Niyomkul, Nan Niyomkul, Deklan Downes, Jedi Niyomkul

Founder of Tamarind Restaurant Group, Supichai “Charlie” Niyomkul died on April 5th at the age of 70 due to a complication of Covid-19. He is remembered for his endless smiles, his dedication to his family, and the popular Thai restaurant he left behind.

Widely known for introducing Thai fine dining to Atlanta, Nyomukuru moved to the United States in 1971, working from bartenders to servers to even the captain of a riverboat in New York City. About 20 years later, he and his wife Nantha “Nan” Niyomkul opened their first restaurant, Tamarind Thai Cuisine, on the Upper East Side, attracting celebrity patrons such as Brooke Shields and Sidney Poitier.

After visiting a friend in Atlanta at the 1996 Olympic Games, Niyom Cruz decided to move his family, including his children Eddie and Dee Dee, to the south and open a tamarind opposite the gas station on 14th Avenue. It became known for its specialty pineapple chicken dishes served in the sacred pineapple.

“He was a pioneer in Midtown. He didn’t even have Starbucks at the time,” says his daughter Dee Dee Nyomukuru. “At lunchtime, a line will appear around the block.”

Xavier Salomon, executive chef of Montage Los Cabos, worked at Ritz-Carlton in Backhead when chef Jean-Banche invited him to a dinner in Tamarind.

“Charlie was sitting at the table with us. He was lively and very proud of his country. We became very good friends,” Salomon said. I will. “He was tireless — an example to follow. Morning, noon, night he was there. It was his life.”

Charlie Nyomukuru

The penultimate host, Niyomkul, has never met a stranger. When professional golfer Vijay Singh and his wife Ardena visited Atlanta before the Masters more than 30 years ago, they came across Tamarind, which immediately led to Charlie’s love of golf and Singh’s Asian heritage.

“Charlie made everyone in the restaurant feel good,” says Ardenassin. “He had real warmth.”

Singhs enjoyed the Niyomkuls company and its food so much that he invited him to the annual Tournament Players Club party. The number of participants increased from 20 to 200 as rumors spread about unique dishes such as grilled Thai lamb chops. Niyomkuls was invited to set up a menu for the Masters Champions Dinner.

The perfect restaurant owner, Charlie, opened Nantai Fine Dining in 2003 and moved Tamarind to Colony Square the following year. (Tamarind was subsequently closed.)

“I was impressed with his business sense and his great love for Nan and his children,” says Tony Conway, the founder of the legendary event that made friends with Charlie in 1994. .. “He was always happy and always smiling,” says Conway.

Nan and Charlie Niyomukuru

Charlie, a family man, kept his business out of the way of his relationship. When his children were young, he picked them up from school, participated in their sports games, and cooked them dinner while Nan was at work. He then taught him to build a close relationship with his five-year-old grandson, Declan Downs, and putter as soon as he could open a club.

“He was a very practical dad and showed me the inside and outside of hospitality,” says Dee Dee.She went on to have two of her own restaurants, Tuk Tuk Thai Food Loft. Chaiyo Modern Thai, And now, Nan and the parent company take on some of her father’s responsibilities.

“My dad was that one. He anthropomorphized the restaurant and who we are as a hospitality group,” says Dee Dee.

Charlie never lost his love for his homeland and often returned every year to bring friends from Atlanta.

“He helped me discover [Thailand] From north to south. It was a life-changing experience, “says Salomon. “Thanks to him, I opened this Thai restaurant in Montage Los Cabos. I am forever grateful.”

At the time of his death, Charlie planned to move Nan from his current location across the street to modernize the decoration. Dee Dee will continue his plans for the next few years.

“It was my dad’s dream,” she says.

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