Once upon a time, there was a farmer, hairdresser and Thai chef who had a beautiful idea.
That’s what Samara Palmer, one of three owners of new restaurant, Aroy Maak Thai Cuisine, tells her often curious customers about how the restaurant came to be.
The other two owners of the Sicamous eatery are Palmer’s sister, Haley Palmer, and Chalaem Junmusi. Samara is the hairdresser, Haley is the farmer and Junmusi is the chef.
“Aroy Maak means very tasty,” said Samara.
Samara said she and Junmusi met at the gym about a year ago. At that time, Samara ran a salon at the Parkland Shopping Centre. Junmusi worked as a chef in Thailand for much of her life; and also as a masseuse. The pair got to know each other better at the gym, and bonded as Samara learned how to be a masseuse as well.
Soon, they were both offering massages at Samara’s salon, and their connection kept growing stronger as they saw each other every day. When a new storefront came up for rent at Parkland, Junmusi, who is almost 60, knew it was time to follow her lifelong dream of running her own restaurant.
“Chalaem wants to keep working and live her dream,” said Samara. “And I was a hairdresser for 20 years and ready for something different.”
There was just one more thing the pair felt they had to do before starting their restaurant: find a third team member.
“We needed a third team member, and a strong one. So, we went to talk to my sister, one of the hardest working people I know. She was the right person to make us a set of three,” said Samara.
The three entrepreneurs started leasing the new Parkland storefront in May, and got straight to work refinishing it to their liking.
Samara said her team has huge gardens in the area that they harvest from. Usually in the morning, she said, Haley will harvest vegetables and bring them to the restaurant to be prepared for that night’s meals. The three restaurateurs believe firmly in ‘field-to-fork’ food.
Everything at Aroy Maak is made from scratch, and all meal options are available mild, with the option to add heat. Samara said this makes the menu less overwhelming for people who have never tried Thai food.
As of Oct. 1, Aroy Maak had been in business for four very busy weeks. They were still waiting on their liquor license, but that didn’t faze Samara.
“All people are coming for is food, and that’s our main product, what we’re backing and proud to bring forward. People leave saying ‘I feel healthier,’ and ‘I have more energy’,” said Samara.
When the liquor license does arrive, the restaurant will keep its alcoholic beverage list small and mighty, said Samara. It’ll focus on Thai beers and cocktails.
“We’re off to a strong start, we’re learning so much. I think our limitation is just the size, because we have such a good product but only nine tables.”
Samara said she’s incredibly grateful for the feedback Aroy Maak has received so far. As someone who has lived in Sicamous since 1984, Samara is also incredibly grateful to be a part of “Sicamous blossoming.”
“We all have strong roots in Sicamous,” said Samara of her team. “We love our community so much. If anything, we want to be leaders, to set the bar high and have people say ‘if they can do it, we can do it too’.”
She believes when one local business succeeds, it helps other local businesses succeed as well. Despite tough economic times, Samara said she sees the light at the end of the tunnel for Sicamous businesses.
Aroy Maak is open from 4 to 9 p.m. from Thursday to Monday.
“We’re just wanting to share some beautiful, high quality, healthy food with our town,” said Samara. “We truly, incredibly appreciate all the support we’ve had so far, it’s been very humbling.”