Trouble at True Thai

True_Thai_storefront.jpg
Tony Nelson

If you've gone to True Thai recently, you may have noticed some changes -- a lack of beer and wine on the menu, for example -- and maybe a little tension in the air.

Anna Fieser, owner of the awarding-winning Thai restaurant is in the midst of a contentious legal dispute with her former restaurant manager, Corey Whitechurch.

According to Fieser, Whitechurch had been her housekeeper for over 8 years prior to working as the restaurant's manager. There are differing accounts of both the nature of Whitechurch's job at True Thai and how much he was to be compensated. Fieser claims he was an unpaid consultant; Whitechurch maintains that Fieser agreed to pay him the $51,000 in checks he wrote himself, that he signed a contract entitling him to $100,000 a year... and that she once threw knives at him during a dispute.

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truethai.jpg
Tony Nelson

What is undisputed, however, is that True Thai is in a big financial pickle, big enough to have threatened their liquor license and even big enough to raise the possibility of eviction.

Fieser says she became aware of the alleged fraud when her accountant contacted her in April to alert her to some financial irregularities. These irregularities included delinquent bills owed to everyone from the food and wine distributors, to the landlord, all the way to the state of Minnesota. At the same time, Whitechurch was allegedly paying himself as much as $20,000 a week.

When Fieser confronted Whitechurch, who had been in charge of virtually every aspect of the restaurant's financial business, "he stopped answering his phone and moved to Georgia," she says.

According to Fieser, she was able to secure the funds needed to maintain the license throughout the ordeal, but starting in July, the unpaid beer and wine distributors had stopped delivering. The result for customers was virtually the same.

The temporary lack of alcohol on the menu resulted in a noticeable and immediate impact on the business.

"Some would just turn around and leave if there is no beer, no wine. We'd tell them, and they'd just leave."

The take-out and delivery business, on the other hand, saw no negative impact. As of this week, there has been some progress and dine-in customers can finally have a beer with their Pad Thai. Unfortunately, the account status with the wine distributor will keep vino off the menu until further notice. Regarding what comes next for True Thai, Fieser admits it's uncertain.

"It's a day-to-day struggle," she says, adding that she's also considering downsizing the restaurant and focusing more on take-out and delivery. "We were about to be evicted. I borrowed money from relatives, everyone, just to stay open. I don't know what I'm going to do next."

Corey Whitechurch in the meantime has a counter-claim which not only suggests that the money he collected was legitimately owed to him, but that he in fact had rescued the restaurant from financial ruin.

Neither Whitechurch nor his attorney could be reached for comment.

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An earlier version of this post stated "Whitechurch alleges that she agreed to pay him $5,000 a week, almost $100,000 a year... and that she once threw knives at him during a dispute." This was unclear. Whitechurch maintains that Fieser agreed to pay him the $51,000 in checks he wrote himself. He has also submitted to the court contracts, allegedly signed by True-Thai co-owner Charles Whitney, entitling him to $100,000 a year. The post has been updated to reflect this.



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41 comments
iluvcanada
iluvcanada

I find it interesting that Mr. Whitchurch says he worked 70-80 hours a week at the restaurant.  Doesn't he own his own business?  I doubt the owners of True Thai ever agreed to pay him that amount of money - no matter how good he thought he was.  If I know Anna she will overcome this!  True Thai remains a staple in the Seward neighborhood!

mark.gisleson
mark.gisleson

Also, having just read the comments, there is a lot of disinformation here. TT briefly stopped taking credit cards as a result of Whitchurch's sabotage of the restaurant, but accepts them now. Most complaints listed here stem from Whitchurch's reign of error. 


If you put in an order at True Thai from February through late April, you did not talk to Anna because she was not there, having been banned from her own restaurant by Whitchurch for reasons now revealed to be spurious. 

The only change in True Thai management since they opened is that Fieser's partner has now retired, and her sister is coming over from Thailand to assist with the day to day management. Thanks to record setting delivery business, True Thai is back on the road to profitability, and is rapidly retiring the debts left behind by Mr. Whitchurch.

mark.gisleson
mark.gisleson

Korey Whitchurch was denied unemployment by a judge who simply could not believe all the lies he told during his hearing. He is a troubled individual who deliberately tried to run True Thai into the ground over the course of the few months he was there, and as he left, told employees True Thai would be closed by May. 


That they are still open is a tribute to Anna Prasomphol Fieser, her attorney, accountants and new management team.

flamingbagofpoo
flamingbagofpoo

If someone could make 100,000 a year managing an ethnic restaurant we would all be trying to do that. Sounds like a mess

cmcfadden33
cmcfadden33

Come to St. Paul, we have so many great thai places (start with Thai Cafe).  Or head up central to Karta or Sen Yai Sen Lek .  You can do better than True Thai.

jimaolson
jimaolson

True Thai is awesome!  One of my all time favorites.  Anna has a heart of gold  - so very sad to hear this has happened to her, and the business.  But i know she will come out the other side stronger than ever!

Andrea Sieve
Andrea Sieve

Horrible service....horrible horrible...they should focus on take out. This used to be my favorite Thai place. :/

Mare Anderson
Mare Anderson

So are you outing them or asking for support?

physdom
physdom

I hope things work out in the end, this is my favorite Thai place and Anna has worked very hard to keep everything going. Seems a bit strange to dispense all that money to yourself and then suddenly move to Georgia, it smells like Whitechurch is a crook. It is common in the restaurant business to get robbed by employees, you have to watch them like a hawk.

I wish the best to True Thai.

LeeAnne Harris
LeeAnne Harris

What will I do without my sweet green curry chicken? I am addicted. But I have noticed the decline in service.

Trish Clerkin-Reid
Trish Clerkin-Reid

Im thinking its time to call in Gordon Ramsey or Robert Irvine!!!

Duncan Costello
Duncan Costello

the cook that was killed on the highway was the backbone of the operation

Mary Zuiker
Mary Zuiker

I'm not surprised from the fiasco I had with them.. really poor management over there

Donald Sergent
Donald Sergent

As of last time I called They weren't taking credit cards anymore

JayBoy3000
JayBoy3000

@citypages guess who showed up on Groupon today?! Umm, probably not a good idea to buy after reading this story!

David Walbridge
David Walbridge

Kinda not surprised; went one night, ordered, got food a bit under two hours later...

CF_MN
CF_MN

Any review of True Thai will always have mixed reviews because people don't realize the ownership changed hands a couple years ago. I was working out of state and didn't know the change occurred and couldn't figure out why this once great restaurant was now so terrible till I saw it posted on a Yelp review.

TwinTown77
TwinTown77

This place is overrated.  Their service is horrible and one can no longer use a debit / credit card.

christine 16
christine 16

hmmm...bad time to use my expired groupon?

Valerie Urban
Valerie Urban

Corey Whitechurch was my cleaning person for several years and he was polite and intelligent and probably the hardest worker I ever met. Just throwing that out there.

nmpls
nmpls

true thai has always had notoriously bad service, but the take-out was worth it. unfortunately, it seems like the quality of food has also started to dip a bit lately. but nevertheless it's still my go-to spot for thai.

Jean Claude Cau
Jean Claude Cau

What kind of consulting would a Thai joint on East Franklin need to begin with?

Justin Slingsby
Justin Slingsby

Damn.. was just talking to my girlfriend the other night how I was disappointed with my food at Big Bowl and we shoulda gone to True Thai. Hopefully they get their math straightened out.

Neil Bertucci
Neil Bertucci

Well if they weren't finished before, an article like this will more than likely stick the proverbial "fork" in them. Well played City Pages.

Oscar Quella
Oscar Quella

How many weeks are in a year? Also, 5,000 a week? Damn! Is that what restaurant managers typically make? Who wants me on their team?

Christine Brown
Christine Brown

oh no. obviously the manager is lying. these numbers don't make sense. 5000/week, 20,000/wk, 100,000/yr....frankly i find it doubtful that someone would hire their housekeeper as a manager of one restaurant for 100,000/yr when the business doesn't make nearly enough to pay that kind of money.

Ashley Besser
Ashley Besser

And someone doesn't know how to use a calculator...

reader
reader

How does $5000 a week equate to $100k a year?

codi2
codi2

LOVE the food. Hands down awesome curry. But my past few experiences there were beyond awful because of service. One full hour between ordering and receiving my food, and I ordered a cold salad! Worse yet I didn't see my server once during that hour, so I couldn't ask where my food was. My appetizer arrived after I had eaten my salad.  I even spoke to management at the restaurant who didn't seem to care about my experience, and emailed Anna, the owner, after which I received no response. Sad to say, as this used to be my favorite restaurant in Minneapolis, but I won't be returning.

codi2
codi2

@Andrea Sieve EXACT SAME SENTIMENTS. Until the day I went to pick up my take out order I'd placed with Anna and was told there was no order on record. Boo. 


codi2
codi2

@David Walbridge Me too! Well, it was one full hour, but I ordered a green papaya salad! And the worst part was when I mentioned this to the management up front it was blamed on the cooks; I was told the cooks are moody and being mean to the waitstaff. And I got no apology or anything! So weird. So I emailed Anna and got no response.


codi2
codi2

@Neil Bertucci Seriously if City Pages can save someone from the restaurant experience I had there, more power to them.


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