BRATTLEBORO — Time flies at Taste of Thai.
"It doesn't even feel like five years," said Emily Keopraseuth, whose family owns and runs the food truck located in Brattleboro next to the Mobile gas station at Exit 3. "It feels like our first year."
One of her two brothers named Eddie, a firefighter living in Hartford, Conn., has asked her why she doesn't come live over there.
"I've gone to a lot of other places but it doesn't feel like home. I just love Brattleboro," Emily said as she prepared for another day of serving customers Thai signature dishes.
Her father, Noulieng Keopraseuth, escaped communist Laos.
"We lived in Thailand for four or five years in camp. We had to sneak out (of Laos) at night," he said. "When we first left our country, it was kind of rough."
Knowing how to speak no English proved difficult during Noulieng's first years in America, where he landed in Pennsylvania but later moved to Vermont for better job security. Family members told him about an opportunity at a local factory where boots were pressed. Noulieng said the factory has been shut down for about 14 years now.
Having lived in Brattleboro for nearly 30 years, Noulieng's previous employment was at Brockway Smith in Hadley, Mass., where he built doors and trim.
"I gave up on that, getting laid off here and there," he said, referring to how his decision to open Taste of Thai came about.
The truck stays on the property overnight and the only time they close in winter is when Brattleboro Union High School does the same.
"We tried opening when the high school wasn't open and there was pretty much no one here," said Emily. "It's probably because people pick up their kids and say, 'Let's pick up some Thai food today.'"
Anywhere from 50 to 100 customers can come in on a given day, said Emily, although she has never officially kept count. The truck opens at 11 a.m. and stays open until 7 or 8 p.m. It is closed Saturdays and Sundays.
"We're busy," said Noulieng. "We get people from town, the people from New Hampshire. We get just about everyone. The hospital people come over."
During the summer, Taste of Thai sees more customers coming in. Emily chalks that up to all the travelers. But their participation in festivals also drums up some extra business.
"We've gone to Garlic Fest (in Bennington) and we've done a few in Connecticut. We just travel all over the place, wherever people want us," Emily said before laughing about a recent experience. "We went to this one sober hippie festival. Everyone was running around naked. I was like, 'Where are we?' It was kind of weird."
Emily said her mother comes around 3 p.m. to help while her grandmother Veing "slaves away" doing "all the background stuff."
"(Veing) makes the chicken satay. Everyone loves those. Sometimes we sell out of those," said Emily. "And the people refuse to order anything else."
Also available at Taste of Thai are egg rolls, veggie spring rolls, mango salads, fried tofu with peanut sauce, ginger chicken, all kinds of curry plus plenty more.
The truck got a makeover by the Connecticut-based Stick It Graphics Vehicle Wraps back in July, going from completely white with blue lettering to a colorful design with graphics. The change is believed to have helped with visibility and promotion overall.