There is a small family-run restaurant on the corner of West Oregon Avenue and North Front Street in Creswell that specializes in homestyle Thai food. With a capacity of about 15 people inside the building, Dak Thai Cuisine is only open for takeouts due to the desire for social distance. But owner Venus Croftus says that doesn’t stop her family from serving delicious food.
“It’s the food we grew up with from childhood,” Crofts said. “It’s comfortable food.”
Crofts and his sister run the first end of the business while their parents, Ann and Jesse Crofts, cook in the kitchen. The business first opened in March 2020 but was only open for two days before closing due to COVID-19 restrictions. In June 2020, it was re-launched and has been serving food for takeouts ever since. Crafts says community support has been important to Dak Thai cuisine over the past two years, and Creswell’s welcoming attitude is family-friendly and intimate.
“We are very fortunate to be here in Crosswell and the community has been very welcoming from day one,” said Venus Crofts. “The community in Creswell here is amazing.”
Crofts says his family is no stranger to the restaurant business. Her parents have worked for decades and in the restaurant they own, both United States and Thailand. It was here that Crafts said her mother taught her how to fuse traditional family recipes with American tastes in order to create her own taste for Thai food.
“I grew up in a restaurant here in the States with my parents, and it’s been like that ever since,” Crofts said. “It’s something that only goes in the blood, it goes in the family.”
Some of the best foods on the Venus Crafts menu are Cashew Stea Fry and Panang Curry. She says Steer Fry is her mother’s recipe that has been created to incorporate the influences of generations of family recipes. The unconventional recipe includes homemade chili paste, and Croftus says people often order cashew stea fries. Kraft says Panang Curry has a herbal infusion of fresh lime leaves with curry spices and plenty of locally available vegetables that make the dish a cozy meal feel that consumers enjoy.
Croftus said the goal of Dak Thai cuisine is to provide simple, delicious food because the most important thing to her family is to “eat something that makes you feel good.” She says she is fortunate to work with her family and connect with each other through food.
“This is a satisfying feeling when you serve someone and they like the food you make and feel comfortable,” Crofts said. “It’s a wonderful feeling to see that light on their faces.”
Despite its decision to continue taking only takeout orders, Croftus says the restaurant is finding ways to connect with its customers. The family also takes suggestions for new foods from customers willing to share what they want to see on the menu. They even made meals with ingredients brought by customers, such as pumpkin or squash that could be included in the curry.
“We have a few regulars who, for example, will bring some peppers from their garden and we’ll make a special fry with a spicy chili to try them on,” Crofts said. “Because we can’t get customers to come and join us, we make it to them.”
What Croftus calls the “dish at the moment” is the seasonal Thai barbecue chicken. It is usually offered in the summer, but customers tend to request food out of season, so the family brings it back in early spring. Croftus says sponsors like it.
“The response has been amazing,” said Croftus. “My mom is especially happy because it’s her own unique recipe, as well as mixing Thai herbs into a roasted barbecue chicken. A lot of people like it.”
Dak Thai Cuisine is open for take-out only from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday at 2 W. Oregon Avenue in Crosswell. Orders can be called at 503-516-9297.