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Owner says Thai restaurant will open in Rock Falls

Despite setbacks, all four projects moving forward

ROCK FALLS – The owner of the former Innovations 4 You building says he still plans to open four businesses there, including a Thai restaurant.

Trirong Khuntangta says the building at 102 W. Second St. still is being renovated to house a fitness center, coffee shop, Thai restaurant and bar. A shared rooftop area also is part of the plans, he says.

While the fitness center and coffee shop are further along than the other businesses, Khuntangta said he is hoping that everything can open this summer.

“I would like to open everything at the same time,” Khuntangta said. “That would be best for all of the individual businesses.”

Khuntangta, who recently returned from a 2-month trip to Thailand, said he believes that a change in plans regarding who would operate the restaurant has caused some confusion.

“I own Touch of Thai [in Dixon], and the family that operates it just rents the building,” Khuntangta said.

The original plan called for the Dixon restaurant operators, the Yindeeroop family, to also run the new Touch of Thai in Rock Falls. The family, however, recently decided to withdraw from the project.

“They backed out a couple months ago,” Khuntangta said. “But I own the restaurant and the Touch of Thai name.”

He is searching for another operating family – one of the setbacks that has delayed the project, the owner says. He has prospects in Chicago and Florida.

“It is hard to find Thai cooks,” Khuntangta said. “We have talked to a couple of families, but we have to make sure we find the right people to cook.”

The age of the building also has slowed the work, Khuntangta said.

“This building was built in 1899,” he said. “There is so much work in an old building, the renovations are taking a long time.”

The construction crew has been kept small to save money. While some specialists have been called in, a majority of the work is being done by Khuntangta, business partner Brent Sisson, Dead Tree Tavern operator Brian Sisson, and the Sissons’ father.

“With just us doing most of the work, it’s been a slow process,” Brent Sisson said. “Trirong and I might also have to open the restaurant by ourselves until we get other operators in place.”

The restaurant is now ready for carryout business, so it’s likely it will open strictly for that purpose until the dining area is finished.

Sisson says the bar “is getting there” and should also be open by summer. The fitness center and coffee shop are ready now, he says. Breakfast and a variety of baked goods will be available at the coffee shop.

Sisson, who first met Khuntangta through their love of kickboxing, is excited about the variety of fitness offerings that will be available at the fitness center. Khuntangta also owns a fitness business in Dixon, Traditional Wellness Center.

“We’ve expanded from the original plan for the fitness center,” Sisson said. “We’ll now have kickboxing in the basement, and everything from yoga and tai chi to massage.”

The fact that four projects are involved in the venture also has stretched the timeline.

“With so many businesses involved, it just takes longer to coordinate everything,” Khuntangta said.

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