Heritage Eats at Stanford to fill old Thai Cafe spot

April 26, 2018, 7:15 a.m.

Heritage Eats at Stanford will open in the cafe space at Jordan Hall, officially replacing previous vendor Thai Cafe, the School of Humanities and Sciences (H&S) announced Thursday.

Starting in May, the new restaurant will feature house-made drinks, including boba, in addition to Asian cuisine. The official date of the restaurant’s grand opening has yet to be determined.

Last June, after 30 years of operation, Thai Cafe owner Mykhanh Bahlman retired and closed down her restaurant, leaving the cafe space in the basement of building 420 in the Main Quad vacant. Less than a year after Thai Cafe’s closure, Heritage Eats at Stanford will be up and running under the leadership of general manager Chris Cutini, former manager of Los Gatos restaurant Nick’s Next Door.

Heritage Eats at Stanford will serve lunch five days a week, both throughout the regular academic year and through summer quarter. The menu featuring salads, sandwiches, rice bowls and a rotating menu of special items was designed by Ben Koenig, founder of Heritage Eats in Napa, CA. According to Koenig, information about the opportunity to set up shop at Stanford came through a regular customer at the flagship Napa location. Koenig said Heritage Eats at Stanford is part of his plan to create global flavors with fresh, locally sourced ingredients at an affordable price.

“I hope that over time we become known on campus as being a place that offers quality food packed with flavor, served affordably and with a smile,” Koenig wrote in an email to The Daily.

The decision follows an H&S survey of approximately 2,700 participants from the Stanford community. After the initial survey, four finalist vendors were selected for a taste test by upwards of 100 randomly selected participants who provided a ranking of their preferences.

“It was important to get the community’s input to help inform the decision,” said Shannon Silva, business and program manager for H&S Facilities and Capital Planning, in an email to The Daily.

According to Silva, Heritage Eats at Stanford earned the best rating for the taste of its food, and participants cited the availability of house-made drinks and variety as positive attributes for the restaurant.

“Our survey showed a strong desire for more pan-Asian cuisine on campus,” Silva stated. “On top of that, Heritage Eats at Stanford serves dishes from several other cuisines, so they will really increase the dining choices available at Stanford.”

Heritage Eats at Stanford’s menu will include rotating items including Thai-style Bao buns, shrimp tacos and falafel wraps. In addition, the menu includes house-made drinks such as Thai tea, hibiscus tea and Vietnamese iced coffee with the option of including boba.

“We pride ourselves on serving fresh food with bold flavor profiles that will keep things exciting,” Koenig wrote to The Daily.

Students expressed to The Daily that they hoped a new vendor at Jordan Hall would preserve Thai Cafe’s speed, convenience and low prices. The H&S survey suggested similar demands from the Stanford community.

“We saw some clear trends: people want to get their lunch quickly and at a reasonable price,” Silva told The Daily.

With its location at the heart of campus, Heritage Eats at Stanford will provide another lunch option for students on the go. In addition, the eatery will offer an order-ahead system via mobile app, as well as a catering service for the Stanford community.

“I’m excited to be able to spread our good food and good vibes around the area,” Koenig said. “We’d love to become a fixture in the local community, and hopefully we can be a memorable part of everyone’s time on the Farm.”


Contact Karen Kurosawa at karen16 ‘at’ stanford.edu.


Karen is a Desk Editor for the University beat. She is also a member of The Daily's Special Projects team, where she works on initiatives including The Stanford Daily Winter Externship. Contact her at karen16 'at' stanford.edu.

Login or create an account

Apply to The Daily’s High School Summer Program

deadline EXTENDED TO april 28!