Thai Orchid Cafe brought back many of the favorite dishes from Toa Green’s parents’ Thai restaurant, but the menu also featured modern twists. Green wanted to add a fun dessert option to the menu and had her heart set on a coconut ice cream she remembered eating in Thailand. The Thai dessert was served in a hot dog bun and topped with sweetened condensed milk and peanuts.
Not sure where to find such an item, she began making her own coconut ice cream using a Cuisinart and was able to replicate the taste nearly perfectly. Green could only make one batch a day, however, and would often have to post a sold-out sign at the restaurant. But the success of the dessert encouraged her to continue her ice cream-making efforts, and she teamed up with a local farm to make sweet potato pie ice cream with caramelized pecans. This flavor was also a hit, and Green kept dreaming.
Next, she used local strawberries to make strawberry ice cream. She recognized that quality ingredients could make a huge difference in the taste and texture of her products. It was a turning point for Green, who observed that customers would visit the restaurant specifically for ice cream orders. Social media engagement with the restaurant’s ice cream-related posts also surpassed that of other dishes, and one customer even drove during a snowstorm specifically for ice cream pints — which, at the time, were packaged in soup containers.