On the corner of West Oregon Avenue and North Front Street in Creswell sits a small family-run restaurant specializing in homestyle Thai food. With a capacity for about 15 people inside the building, Dak Thai Cuisine is open for takeout only, due to a desire to social distance. But owner Venus Crofts says that doesn’t stop her family from serving delicious meals.
“It’s the food we grew up with from childhood,” Crofts says. “It’s comfort food.”
Crofts and her sister manage the front end of the business while their parents, Anne and Jesse Crofts, are cooks in the kitchen. The business first opened in March 2020 but only stayed open for two days before closing for COVID-19 restrictions. In June 2020, it reopened and has been serving food for takeout since. Crofts says community support has been important for Dak Thai Cuisine in the past two years, and the welcoming attitude from Creswell feels familial and close-knit.
“We’re very fortunate that we’re here in Creswell and that the community has been absolutely welcoming ever since the first day,” Venus Crofts says. “The community here in Creswell is amazing.”
Crofts says her family is no stranger to the restaurant business. Her parents have worked at and owned restaurants for decades, both in the U.S. and Thailand. That’s where Crofts says her mom taught herself how to fuse traditional family recipes with American preferences to create her own take on Thai food.
“I grew up with my parents doing a restaurant here in the States, and it’s been like that ever since,” Crofts says. “It’s something that just runs in the blood, it runs in the family.”
Some dishes that Venus Crofts recommends as the best on the menu are the cashew stir fry and the panang curry. She says the stir fry is her mom’s recipe crafted by including influences from a generational family recipe. The non-traditional recipe includes homemade chili paste, and Crofts says people order cashew stir fry often. Croft says the panang curry has an herbal infusion of fresh lime leaves with curry spices and lots of locally available vegetables that make the dish have a comfort food feeling that customers enjoy.
Crofts says Dak Thai Cuisine aims to provide simple, delicious dishes because the most important thing to her family is “that you eat something that makes you feel good.” She says she’s fortunate to work with her family and connect with each other through food.
“There’s this satisfying feeling when you serve someone and they like and feel comforted by the food that you made,” Crofts says. “To see that light up in their face is just an amazing feeling.”
Despite the decision to continue providing takeout orders only, Crofts says the restaurant finds ways to connect with its customers. The family also takes suggestions for new dishes from customers willing to share what they want to see on the menu. They have even made dishes with ingredients brought in by customers, such as pumpkins or squash that can be incorporated into curries.
“We have a few regulars who, for instance, would bring in some chilies from their garden and we would make a special stir fry with a spicy chile for them to try,” Crofts says. “Because we can’t have customers come and join us inside, that’s how we make it up to them.”
What Crofts calls “the dish to have at the moment” is the seasonal Thai barbecue chicken. It’s usually offered in summer, but customers kept requesting the meal out of season, so the family brought it back early in spring. Crofts says the patrons have loved it.
“The response to it was amazing,” Crofts says. “My mom is especially happy because that’s her own unique recipe as well with that infusion of Thai herbs into a roasted barbecue chicken. A lot of people love that.”
Dak Thai Cuisine is open for take-out only from 11 am-6 pm Monday through Friday at 2 W. Oregon Avenue in Creswell. Orders can be called in to 503-516-9297.