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Staunton Thai restaurant back from the brinkBy Rebecca Martinez and Calvin Trice/staff • and • October 23, 2010

STAUNTON — Pad Thai has returned to Staunton.
The noodle dish is back now that Ubon Thai Victorian Restaurant and Inn reopened for dinner Friday, after the previous property owner’s foreclosure shuttered the city’s only Thai restaurant. Ubon Herlong bought the space her restaurant previously rented. On Friday, she assumed ownership hours before opening for business. “We had to wait, and wait and wait, and today, we closed the deal,” Ubon Herlong said in her thick and lively accent soon after closing on the property. “We signed all the paperwork today, and it’s officially ours,” husband Dan Herlong added. Word got out Thai would be back downtown, and Ubon Herlong said she’d been getting calls for weeks. She’s already booked a birthday party for 60 people later this month. New on the menu for the resurrected eatery will be crispy pork, panang curry, yellow curry and, eventually, crispy fish, she said. “These are famous foods,” Ubon Herlong said. “Thai people love it.” The couple recently moved to Staunton from Nellysford, where they will continue to operate Thai Mex II. Last year, the Herlongs opened Ubon Thai Victorian Restaurant in the Belle Grae Inn, but closed in the summer when the properties owned by innkeeper Michael Organ, including the Belle Grae, entered foreclosure. Ubon bought the Victorian mansion — tax value assessed at $638,540 — for $400,000 at a foreclosure auction in August. Herlong said reopening Ubon Thai Victorian is a priority before she sets about reopening the inn, which she hopes to do soon. The building no longer is called the Belle Grae, but Ubon Thai Victorian Restaurant and Inn. The restaurant will eventually offer delivery for Staunton, but they’ll be rolling out the extra services in stages, they said. “We want to crawl before we walk and walk before we run,” Dan Herlong said. Ubon Herlong has recruited relatives, experienced chefs and kitchen managers, to help her run the new incarnation of her restaurant. “We’re just all family. We don’t want to hire too many employees. We don’t want to be bankrupt,” she joked. Herlong said the restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. A ribbon cutting ceremony, which will feature food and entertainment, including a traditional Thai dancer, is scheduled to happen Tuesday at the restaurant.