If Gene Kobboon had followed his initial plan, it is most likely that Thai Passion would not exist as it does today. Fortunately, he allowed his true passions to carry him off of his intended path to create one of Austin’s most popular and unique Thai restaurants.
Arriving in United States in 1985, Gene began taking classes at a local college in order to pursue a career in the field of commercial arts. To support himself as he attended school, Gene started working for several different restaurants in the Austin area. Having worked in his family’s food processing business since the age of 10, he was a natural in the kitchen. Before long, his focus had shifted from commercial arts to culinary arts.
After several years of honing his skills in prominent Austin establishments, Gene decided he was ready to branch out on his own. With the help of two business partners, Gene opened Thai Passion in September of 1996 in the burgeoning downtown Austin area.
While his business partners have since moved on to other endeavors, Gene still pours his heart and soul into maintaining the success of the award-winning restaurant.
Nestled in the historic Sampson Henricks Building, Thai Passion’s soothing atmosphere honors the integrity of the historic building while incorporating classic Thai elements juxtaposed with the modernity of the now thriving downtown area. An artist at heart, Gene has adorned the restaurant walls with his original, handcrafted carvings of traditional Thai images and still makes sure every table is furnished with a fresh Thai orchid each day. Gene’s culinary creations are a yet another expression of his artistic side, as all dishes are created and presented as if they are themselves pieces of fine art.
Due to its delectable menu and comforting atmosphere, Thai Passion has managed to attract a wide range of patrons including local clientele who stop in regularly for a bite, musicians and night owls who pop in after a late night in one of the downtown clubs (the restaurant stays open until 3 a.m.), and visiting celebrities in town to make a film or check out the special events Austin has to offer. However, the true spirit of the restaurant lives in Gene’s concept of what Thai Passion should be: a place of calm that always offers great food, wonderful service, and allows every customer to leave feeling happy and satisfied. So far, he seems to be on track in achieving that goal.