Thai restaurant to open in Vashon town this fall

May Chaleoy, who co-founded a popular and highly regarded Thai restaurant in Seattle's Wallingford neighborhood several years ago, plans to open a similar eatery in Vashon town this fall.

Chaleoy, who moved to Vashon a year and a half ago, has leased the space formally occupied by Heather's Homegrown Cafe, just south of Kronos. She recently applied for a liquor license and has begun remodeling the small cafe, equipping it with teak furniture — chairs, tables, a bar and paneling — that she had shipped from Thailand.

Her restaurant in Wallingford, called simply May, a lively eatery rich in Thai-inspired decor, received strong reviews from the Seattle media, including the Seattle Times, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Seattle Weekly. Noting the abundance of Thai restaurants in Seattle, the Times' reviewer said of May, "There is no other place that gets it right so often and in such lovely surroundings."

It was named one of Seattle's 10 best restaurants by Seattle Magazine in 2008.

But Chaleoy said she grew unhappy with her business partner at May and left the establishment recently. Her new eatery will have a similar name — May's Kitchen + Bar — and, she promises, the same attention to culinary detail.

Her parents, for instance, will be coming here from Thailand soon to help her with the opening. They'll be planting a garden at her home in Burton, where she plans to grow lemongrass, Thai basil and other herbs found in Thai foods.

She initially thought May's Kitchen would open by the end of summer. She applied for a liquor license May 31. But she said it will likely be September before it opens.

Chaleoy, who came to the United States 16 years ago as an international student, moved to Vashon to help a friend take care of what she called his "get-away" home. Since then, she said, she has rented a home in Burton and grown to appreciate the Island's pace and beauty.

"I just love Vashon so much. It's nice, quiet and I like all the green," she said.

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