quick interview


My grandfather is the one who gave the name to Soi Sailom (Windy Soi). Back in those days, most roads were named after their landowners. Soi Ari was called Soi Katib, after E.M Katib the Indian business person who owned the land. However, the name Soi Sailom was agreed upon by the votes of early settlers, my grandfather was one of them. He thought it was windy and thought this would make a good name – he suggested it and everyone liked it – and so it’s been called Sai Lom (wind) ever since.

When Phranakorn Co-op store (next to BTS Ari) was built in 1972, it was known for its high-quality goods. That piece of land used to be owned by the Tinnakorn family (Descendents of Rama II). My great-grandfather’s house was there before he sold the land to build the mall. My dad is from Soi Sailom and my Mom is a Tinnakorn (Ari). They met each other elsewhere but then later realized that they were neighbors.

We see how Thai farmers get poorer through the current food supply chain and we wanna change that.

It’s because affordable fruit and vegetables in the supermarkets have arrived there after passing through the hands of middlemen, and at each stage. The buyer pushes the price down. The farmers sell their harvest to the central wholesale market, And they demand a very cheap price, before selling to the retail, who also demands a very cheap price. If the price increases at each step, how can this product still be so affordable? Because the farmers are forced to sell at a very low price.

What I’m trying to do now is to support the farmers by buying directly from them at a fair price. Our prices may be a little higher now. In the future, as organic and farmers’ market demand grows, Happy Grocers will be able to order in larger amounts. And sell our fruit and vegetables directly from farmers at a more affordable price.

This is the fourth time we have been asked to follow a “No dining-in” policy. It’s frustrating, that’s for sure, but don’t worry ‘Oh Vacoda’ won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. Even though the rent in Ari is not cheap, and the cafe hasn’t been making any money for a long time now, we’re still doing it, partly because we both have our full-time jobs and we can turn this place into our little office, but most importantly because this is our passion!

We liked Avocados back when they were still new in Thailand. This cafe gives us a chance to experiment with things we love and that’s what keeps us going.

There are 6 people in my household, most of them are aged between 60 and 84. None of them has been out of the house for a month now. I only need to go to work once in a while, but this still means I risk being a carrier to my family. Their way of life has been changed, we have to work together to stay safe and happy.

I’m lucky that my family is open to new things, to make changes for their own safety. My aunt has started shopping for groceries using an app, and my uncle also buys stuff online. I have to make sure they don’t buy low-quality, cash-grab products targeted at older, vulnerable people.

It doesn’t seem like a big deal to us, but for them, being stuck at home and not having a job to do, they are glued to this technology that they don’t entirely understand. We’ve been living with technology longer than them and it’s our role to help them out.

I just went from having 8 fridges in a large kitchen at “Dag” to sharing a single fridge with my mom. After we closed, I turned my home into a ‘cloud kitchen’. This means that every week I come up with a dish, which I post online for people around the Ari-Saphan Kwai area to try. It’s for people who want to try their luck because I don’t post any pictures, nothing. I’ve never made these dishes before, but people still order them! I cook the dishes and deliver them myself. I have fun whizzing around visiting people’s houses on my bike. I think this period’s a cool-down time for me to relax and experiment.

My last name is Weinberg which means “Vineyard” in German. I grew up working in vineyards to collect money for school trips.  And now I work at Cantina, local Italian food and wine restaurant in Ari. Coincidence, right?

For my Thai customers who are intimidated by wine culture and don’t know what to order, I want to say ‘forget the rules!’ I drink white wine with red meat because I like it! If you struggle with the names, our team can help you. Even find your perfect match by giving you some wines for tasting, so don’t worry.

I’ll be waiting to see you guys again when the situation gets better. Please know that Cantina is a casual, local restaurant and we wouldn’t be here without you guys, the people of Ari.

We studied social entrepreneurship at Thammasat Uni. One year after graduation, Covid-19 happened, we found that small farmers were disconnected from the city. So Happygrocers decided to connect agricultural products directly to customers in Bangkok

Our early adopters are westerners. I believe it is because of the awareness about environmental education and the importance of knowing where our food comes from. While, in Thailand, we automatically don’t question where our food comes from and its impact on the environment, especially when we shop at supermarkets.

Organic food obviously has health benefits as a major selling point.  But we also want our customers to know that buying directly from farmers helps strengthen their community.  And protect the environment at the same time.

I’m taking Manu out for a walk, but, in a way, she’s taking me out for a walk too! We both need a bit of a walk and a breath of fresh air. I used to live here in Ari Soi 4 but now I have moved to Phahol Soi 3. We still get a @muvmi TukTuk from home to take a walk around Ari. I think it’s a much better place to walk because there’s not much traffic, and it’s generally calmer. Obviously, Manu can’t go into these government building’s parks, but it makes no difference at the moment as neither of us can go – they are all closed anyway!

They call me ‘Auntie Ya Kanom Jeeb’ around here. I’ve been selling Kanom Jeeb (dumplings) since 2014, so it’s been a while. After I finish making them in the morning, I start pushing my cart from my home near Victory Monument all the way here. I get to Ari between 5 and 6 o’clock, that’s when I start heading back and that’s my day. Ari people are lovely, they give me compliments if they like my dumplings. It’s hard to make ends meet these days, but we keep trying! I try to sell everything I have brought with me – unless it rains, ugh.

(If you love kanom jeeb – her dumplings are hard to beat!)

When I had to spend 14 days in a hotel quarantine to enter Thailand, I lived my life through playing ‘The Sims’. I created myself, my house back in America, and even my friends. But then this started to make me feel homesick. I decided to come to Thailand when the pandemic situation back home was bad. And it seemed like there was no problem here. I’m hoping the Covid situation in Thailand will get better soon so I can fully explore the country. However, even though I’m trapped in my apartment most of the time, I feel my mind, body, and voice are free. I stay connected to an amazing network of friends via gaming. It’s my way of coping with the world where it’s hard to meet new people.

Ben’s twitch