Sam Suaudom

Baan Sawan

I’m a townie; I was born here. Military is compulsory in Thailand, and my father took his air force experience and transferred that so he would be in the army over here. My parents met in D.C., and the military led us to Fort Jackson in Columbia.

At Baan Sawan, my title – on the books – is general manager, but it’s a family restaurant. Being the younger of the two brothers, I get to do whatever needs to get done. General manager, beverage director, occasional plumber. Baan Sawan is a restaurant specializing in unique Thai food as well as carefully chosen wine and beers, tucked away in a bungalow on Devine Street just across from the police station.

The level of camaraderie in Five Points is timeless. You look at how it’s changed, how it hasn’t changed – it’s still tight knit and very village-like.

As a family, we decided to go into the restaurant business in 1995, as my father had wanted a restaurant for a number of years. We all sort of buckled down and agreed to try it out and see where it goes. After opening Pattaya on Assembly Street in 1995, we felt as though we had a better idea of what we wanted to do.

We opened up Baan Sawan here in 1999. It’s a smaller venue, and we pared down the kitchen to just my parents and my brother. We had much greater control, and as a result, we think much better quality over here, and we’re very proud of that.

  • Five Points Memories

    Growing up in Forest Acres, my father used to take me to Groucho’s and Andy’s Deli all the time. There was a great little art shop down in Five Points, and when I was 16 or 17, I was working with sculpture, and they gave me a little place to sell my sculptures. That was, I think, my first exposure to the community in Five Points, and how it encourages people.

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  • Community

    The level of camaraderie in Five Points is timeless. You look at how it’s changed, how it hasn’t changed – it’s still tight knit and very village-like in that regard. Suzi Sheffield opened El Burrito a year after we first opened up. She is incredibly charming, so sweet, so generous and so enthusiastic about community, and about what we do and what she does. That certainly was one of the ways we began to knit together the fabric that is Five Points.

    Bar None has become almost a sister location to us. We’ve become very friendly with a lot of people who work over there, like Marty, the owner. It’s gotten to a point where people call them Barn One and call us Barn Two. For a number of years, it’s been like a second office. It’s a comfortable place.

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  • St. Pat's Race

    The most time I've spent in Five Points over the last few years is at the St. Pat's race. I try to run it every year. That, to me, gives a good sense of Five Points -- people who are there before the festival begins, and to see the look of them steeling themselves up; people going into battle. We run the race, hang out here to wait for Bar None to open, and then go there and have a few beers.

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  • The Ideal Day

    I’m highly localized in where I go. My ideal day in Five Points would certainly start with a little lunch at El Burrito – have a Negra Modelo there and wander about; hit Gerald’s Shoes – its very centrally located and have a good selection of shoes in there; they’re solid cobblers.

    Time permitting, there would be Papa Jazz – I’d spend a little while there. It’s a point of contention with my girlfriend that my musical tastes span so widely I could spend all day there.

    Then I’d head to Bar None for a drink with friends and their smoked wings (served every other Tuesday). Their wings are extraordinary; out of this world.

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