Kalaya Fishtown is just one of several diverse businesses moving into the neighborhood

Kalaya is the Thai word for "beautiful lady" and holds a new meaning for the woman who started it.

ByNydia Han and Heather Grubola WPVI logo
Thursday, December 1, 2022
Kalaya is just one of several diverse businesses in Fishtown
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Kalaya is the Thai word for "beautiful lady" and holds a new meaning for the woman who started it.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A new restaurant is opening its doors this week in Philadelphia's Fishtown section, and it's just one of several diverse businesses moving into the neighborhood.

The Action Cam got an exclusive look at Kalaya Fishtown before it opened this week.

It's a Thai restaurant and part of a growing number of minority-owned businesses looking to make the area their new home.

"You cannot find this anywhere unless you just come to Kalaya," said Chutatip "Nok" Suntaranon.

Chutatip "Nok" Suntaranon

Kalaya is the Thai word for "beautiful lady" and holds a new meaning for the woman who started it.

"Kalaya is still here. It's just, you know, she's grown up and become more elegant and more beautiful," said Suntaranon.

The first Kalaya restaurant was in South Philadephia, it was a 35-seat BYO.

An inside-look at Kalaya Fishtown

Kalaya Fishtown has room for 150-plus and a full bar.

"This space, the minute I saw it, it reminded me of my childhood in the market because I always spend time with my mother in the market," said Suntaranon.

Suntaranon, who goes by the nickname, Nok, said every element has ties to her Thai roots, from the art to the food.

"It comes from my own recipes. My family recipes."

For Kalaya Fishtown, Nok partnered with Define Hospitality, which also operates Pizzeria Beddia and Suraya.

"What really resonated with us was the importance of the Thai culture and how she wanted to really deliver that," said Al Lucas of Define Hospitality.

Just a few blocks away on Girard Avenue, husbands Brian Oliveira and Brian Mattera will open Portuguese-inspired Gilda Café and Market early next year.

"The pastry case will live here, and the display will have all the notches and other pastries," said Oliveira.

Named after Mattera's grandmother, the recipes are from Oliveira's family.

"The Pastéis de Nata is really our number one item that is the Portuguese custard tart and the flaky pastry shell," said Oliveira.

Gilda will also sell retail items.

"Grab some meats and cheeses and specialty olive oil, stuff like that," said Mattera.

On Frankford Avenue, Chinese American Sarah Qi will open a new Cake and Joe location where the specialty is the mousse cake.

"We're doing the Asian French fusion-style mousse cake," said Qi.

It's available now at Cake and Joe in Pennsport, but come 2023, come try it in Fishtown.

"Very exciting here," said Qi.

"There's everything for everybody in Fishtown," said Nok.

The diverse business owners said one of the strengths of Fishtown is their support of each other. For instance, Qi said Nok has bought her cakes for Kalaya and she collaborates with and uplifts many others in the neighborhood.