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The Story of Thai Bistro

(Tellico Village) The Best of Bangkok is coming to Tellico or maybe better said The Tour of Asia has arrived to stake a claim to the culinary taste of the Villagers of Tellico and Loudon County. The Thai Bistro at Tellico Village is open at 222 Lakeside Plaza and offering Asian Cuisine from Thailand, China and Japan.

Chintana (Gina) Makin brings over 30 years’ experience in the restaurant business with her to Tellico Village. She came from a humble upbringing in rural Thailand.  As a young woman, she wanted more for her family and moved to Bangkok to learn a trade skill that would afford her children a better life.  She began working in restaurants and built her experience from the bottom up. As she grew in knowledge of the restaurant business she worked her way to the 4 and 5-Star Thai-Asian and Italian restaurants training as a chef in a predominately mans world of the culinary arts. “I wasn’t allowed to work the Hibachi Grills in front of customers because Thai culture believes that being a performing chef in public is a man’s job.”  She didn’t give up on her skills as a chef and happily worked in the kitchens preparing dishes of mainly Thai recipes but also Chinese and Japanese cuisine.  “After several years, I was trusted by the owner to help with manager duties and be responsible for handling the finances of the day to day business.  That responsibility meant a lot to me and I worked hard to show I was worthy of their trust,” Gina stated. 

In 2009 Gina was offered an opportunity to come to America. The former Commerce Secretary of Thailand had opened Thai and Japanese Restaurants in Orlando, Florida. She was brought to the Thai Thani restaurant where she worked and trained as a manager and was then assigned to the Celebration location in Kissimmee. She continued her chef and serving skills filling in as needed.  Gina added, “I also went for two and three month trips to help other Thai Chef’s start their own businesses in Ohio and Maine. It is very important to form a good team for cooking and service.”  Gina expects to use those same skills in building a customer base at the Thai Bistro at Tellico Village.  

Gina came to Knoxville two years ago at the recommendation of a friend, also from Thailand.  She worked for nine months at the Asia Café in North Knoxville where she met her husband Glenn Makin as a customer at the bank where he worked before retiring. After moving to West Knoxville, she became a server at the Taste of Thai and quickly claimed many regular customers. Gina added, “I really enjoy Tennessee and the people have been so nice to me. I try the best I can to serve them and treat them like family.” And continued, “it has been my goal to open a restaurant that offers a variety of Asian favorites.”

When the restaurant opens, Gina will have a chef team led by a professional Thai and Asian Chef from Bangkok, who also came over to work at the Thai Thani in Florida originally.  Chef Artid (ARE-TID) currently in Oxford, Mississippi, will show his culinary skills are second to none in quality and presentation.  “I’ve known Chef Artid for 20 years and have very much respect for his professional skills. He will impress customers with his abilities,” said Gina.

Thai Bistro will feature traditional favorites from Asian style cuisines including Pad-Thai, Drunken Noodles and Curry’s from Thai, General Tso and Sesame Chicken from China and Hibachi and Tempura from Japan as well as many other selections.  “All of our sauces will be prepared from scratch in the kitchen for authentic taste,” Gina said and added, “Only the quality white meat for our chicken dishes, pork tenderloin, quality Shrimp, Salmon and Sea Bass for seafood dishes.  Appetizers will include customer favorites Calamari, handmade Spring Rolls and Satay with Chicken or Pork and Thai Spring Dumplings.”  

The decision to open in Tellico Village was made possible with encouragement from her husband Glenn who retired last year and works part time at the Toqua Golf Club as a Pro Shop Assistant.  “My husband brought me several times to Tellico Village and I love the area like he does,” Gina quipped. “I am looking forward to serving customers from Tellico Village where they don’t have to drive so far for good Asian food.”  

Glenn is known in East Tennessee for his publishing of Golf News of Tennessee and the website since 1996.  “I’m excited for Gina because I know her commitment to her work.  And continued, “trust me, I’m not a chef but I love to eat and yes, I’m biased because she is my wife, but Gina is awesome. I will be available to do what it takes on the business end of the operation and support her completely.”   


For details about the opening visit  Have a preview peek at the menu, the loyalty program and contact information for reservations and take-out orders.  See you soon! 

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