Enactus helps business bring Thai food to area
The State University of New York at Fredonia’s Enactus chapter is helping to introduce Thai food in the Fredonia/Dunkirk area and promote a startup business at the same time.
The group’s E.D.G.E. consulting team partnered with Thailand native Sunisi “Bo” Sirijindaphan to launch Siri Thai Cuisine, a new food truck. A soft opening at the D&F Plaza in late November set the stage for two high profiles events: Miracle on Main Street, a family-oriented holiday festival in Barker Commons in Fredonia on Saturday, Dec. 2, and Jamestown’s presentation of “Holiday on Ice” at Northwest Arena on Saturday, Dec. 9.
During the last two semesters, 14 Enactus students created Siri Thai Cuisine’s business plan and conducted and analyzed surveys geared around Thai food, explained project lead Latrell Tyson, a senior Business Administration major from Buffalo. “We loved the idea of supporting Bo’s food truck so we immediately began working with her and establishing a relationship based upon her needs,” added Stephen Kasprzak, Enactus vice president for storytelling and a senior Communication/Public Relations major from Depew. “We essentially started from scratch when we began working with her.”
Tasks at hand, Mr. Latrell explained, fell into three categories: marketing, operations and human resources.
Elements of the marketing plan included: creating and running Ms. Sirijindaphan’s social media (Twitter @ SiriThaiCuisine, Facebook (SiriThaiTruck), website (sirithaitruck.com) and email (email@example.com). Business cards and menus were also designed.
Students also checked into upcoming events where the food truck could be deployed and put Sirijindaphan in contact with mayors of Dunkirk and Fredonia as well as property owners to find locations where the food truck could be stationed.
All communications platforms needed to be updated regularly with marketing tactics designed to grab the attention of the public, Mr. Kasprzak said.
Suppliers for paper and food products were also located and a storage site for the food truck was obtained.
Human resources aspects included creating a job description and application, which were posted online and distributed throughout the community, and attracting job applicants. Assistance was also given for conducting interviews and hiring workers.
The last few weeks were particularly busy, Kasprzak noted, with students working on communication updates and scheduling and conducting mock events for Sirijindaphan to practice serving.
Enactus members and Sirijindaphan believe authentic Thai food, currently not available locally, can attract an enthusiastic following. Siri Thai Cuisine’s menu includes traditional pad Thai, garlic chicken served with white rice and deep fried spring rolls, among other items.
The food truck was kept busy throughout Miracle on Main Street. Spring rolls and garlic chicken were among the most popular selections among Fredonia students, Kasprzak reported. “Customers in general found all the vendors to be ‘welcoming and collaborative’ and the warm Thai tea that Siri Thai Cuisine was serving was a hit on such a cold day,” he added.
But college students weren’t the only Thai cuisine fans; also enjoying the selections were parents, young children and grandparents. Siri Thai Cuisine was able to tap into these different types of demographics due to its convenient location right next to the Fredonia gazebo, Kasprzak said.
Enactus learned of Sirijindaphan, who immigrated to the United States from Canada, through Accounting Assistant Professor Justin Mindzak near the end of the Fall 2016 semester. School of Business Assistant Professor Susan McNamara, who also serves as the Enactus chapter adviser, was the first point of contact. Sirijindaphan’s family operates a restaurant in Thailand, so she already had experience with preparing the ethnic fare.
Kasprzak says Sirijindaphan is very grateful for Enactus and the service its members have provided.
“She feels that she would’ve never been able to kick start this business on her own and she truly is ecstatic to finally see her dream come to life with Siri Thai Cuisine. Likewise, Enactus doesn’t let her appreciation go unnoticed,” Kasprzak said. “As a team devoted to empowering local residents’ lives, we are almost just as excited to see Bo fulfilling her dreams.”
Sirijindaphan plans to participate in more events, especially during the winter break, Kasprzak noted. She is also available for catering and doing office and lunch gatherings.