By Paul Albani-Burgio
None of the last three tenants to hold down the corner storefront at 1201 East Colfax next to The Irish Snug lasted long.
So as Ploy Limpapath moved forward with her dream of opening a new Thai street food restaurant in the space, she decided to lean into the location’s dubious past by bestowing her eatery with a name that nods at what it will need to succeed where others have recently failed.
“I know ‘Lucky Noodles’ doesn’t really make sense, but I came up with that name because I knew I needed all the support and love to make this happen,” she said.
That moniker is now more apt than ever as Limpapath faces not only the challenges that all first-time restaurant owners face, but the more unique difficulties that come with starting a new restaurant during a pandemic that continues to wreak havoc on the Denver dining scene.
Still, Limpapath, who came to Denver from Thailand 15 years ago on an exchange program and has been here ever since, is undeterred. She said opening Lucky Noodles is her destiny and feels her authentic brand of Thai food is exactly the sort of comforting-yet-unusual experience people are craving during the pandemic.
“In February, I had a chance to back out of the lease, and I said ‘no,'” she said. “Nobody knew it was going to get this bad, but I am choosing to try and give it a shot and not give up.”
Lucky Noodles’ menu consists of Pad Thai, fried chicken and rice and eight other entrees that Limpapath said are meant to provide a taste of the kinds of dishes her mother and grandmother served for 40 years as vendors at a market in Thailand.
But don’t expect typical Thai take out: Limpapath said her dishes will have a natural taste that is authentic to Thai street markets but unfamiliar to many Denverites.
The Pad Thai, for example, is not as sweet and brightly orange as what is usually served in America (but more flavorful, she assured) while the medium spice level of the curries cannot be adjusted because Limpapath does not want to alter the natural pepper composition of the chili paste the curry is made from.
“When you twist things, then they are no longer natural,” she said. “I try to tell customers you don’t need to travel to Thailand for authentic food like this. You can just come here.”
There is also a selection of starters, including dumplings and crispy chicken wings. Those with sweet tooths can sink them into mango sticky rice and buns topped with ice cream (she recommends the Thai iced tea ice cream). Unusually for a Thai restaurant, there is also an espresso machine, although Limpapath said she expects many customers will prefer to order a Thai iced coffee.
While diners are currently limited to eating on the spacious patio, those who venture inside will find an airy space filled with plenty of Limpapath’s two favorite decorative elements: plants and French bulldog figurines (she modeled the logo after her French bulldog, 2 Chainz). Each table is also outfitted with a candle.
“I want it to have that feeling of comfort and coziness,” she said. “Almost like you are at home.”
So far, business has been slower during lunch but picks up during the evenings, a trend Limpapath said suggested to her that many people are still working at home but wanting to go out and enjoy a treat in the evening.
Limpapath said her many neighbors on Colfax have been helping spread the word about her restaurant.
“Some people say Colfax is scary,” she said. “But there are a lot of people who love this neighborhood and they want to show it to people that don’t know it. And we are proud to be here too and appreciate all the love and support.”
Lucky Noodles is currently open for patio dining from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.