Since 2008, Rick Corcoran and his wife Took Charemwong have operated their restaurant, Little Bee Thai, in a variety of settings and locations. It began as a small setup in an Exxon gas station on Sweeten Creek Road. By 2013, Corcoran had converted a Little Debbie’s delivery truck into a functioning food truck, and for the last two years, the couple has zigzagged their business all over Asheville.
At 5 p.m. Friday, May 13, Little Bee Thai rolls out its latest rendition — a permanent brick-and-mortar location at 45 S. French Broad Ave. The new spot will offer counter service with table delivery. In addition to Thai barbecue chicken, beef salad and pad thai, the restaurant will serve a variety of beers and wines. By summer, an outdoor deck should be in place, which will double the venue’s seating capacity from its current 45 to 90.
“The kitchen is almost four times the size [of] the food truck,” Corcoran says, noting that the additional room is allowing the business to return to its full menu. “The green curry dish and the soft shell crab, we’ll be able to do those again,” he says, adding that a friend “brings us fresh seafood [from the Outer Banks], so Thursdays we’ll probably continue our fresh fish night that we had to drop when we … moved to the food truck.”
Another aspect of the expansion is the team itself. In the past, Charemwong worked as the sole chef, but the larger space will allow for two more chefs, one of whom will will be Charemwong’s son who arrives by way of Thailand.
Charemwong, who began cooking on the streets of Bangkok at the age of 8, is known for her unapologetically spicy plates. This, along with the menu’s overall authenticity, has made Little Bee the go-to spot for many Asheville Thai food enthusiasts.
“The demand for the food is what forced us to close the food truck,” Corcoran says. “I was sick of telling people that I was sold out all the time. I figured the demand for her product demanded that we open a restaurant.”