Keo’s Restaurant and Bar is not the typical Thai restaurant in Auburn — as its serves Mexican food.
Keo Souphanthong is the man behind the family operated restaurant off Opelika Road. Born in Laos, Souphanthong moved to Thailand at age 5 and moved to Mobile, Alabama, at age 10.
The restaurant business was not what Souphanthong originally saw for his future. He worked for a number of different companies before agreeing to open the restaurant with his brother-in-law.
Souphanthong came to Opelika and began working in 1989.
For the past five years, Souphanthong said he was pestered by his brother-in-law to open a restaurant with him but always thought it wasn’t his cup of tea.
Recognizing his brother-in-law’s talent as a chef and experience in the restaurant field, Souphanthong’s hesitation subsided as the two embarked on their unusual restaurant venture.
Opening a restaurant allows for more freedom and new innovation, Souphanthong said.
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Embracing new innovation, Souphanthong and his brother-in-law absorbed the existing restaurant in the space, La Palma, in August 2018, to open a new establishment. Their restaurant offers a new Thai menu including family recipes, in addition to the Mexican menu as before.
The Thai options include a variety of appetizers including crab rangoons, calamari, baby octopus and bacon wrapped pineapple shrimp.
Fried rice options, noodle bowls, stir-fried options and soups are among some of the entrees offered.
For newcomers, Souphanthong recommends they try the pad thai or drunken noodles.
“You could try a new dish each week for a year,” Souphanthong said joking about the many options available due to the restaurant’s dual menu.
Souphanthong said Keo’s is a good option for families or large groups as the diverse menu gives guests a variety to choose from.
Souphanthong had not originally planned to name the restaurant after himself but struggled to find a name that didn’t favor either menu.
“No one agreed on anything, so we decided to let our costumers decide,” Souphanthong said.
Souphanthong asked his most frequent costumers to whom most replied “Keo’s.”
Whenever they craved some of his delicious cuisine, they would inevitably say, “Let’s go to Keo’s,” he said.
Despite not originally wanting to put his identity up there, Souphanthong said he eventually agreed, hoping the name will help go along with his message of community.
“Our customers — we know their names, and they know us,” Souphanthong said. “They say this place makes (them) feel like home, they keep coming back, and they bring their friends.”
Souphanthong said he himself is a man of the community and has volunteered as a soccer coach for Opelika Middle School since 1995.
Souphanthong said he values relationships with others and enjoys what he does.
Keo’s is open for both lunch and dinner and serving both Mexican and Thai at all times of the day. Their new hours are from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. The restaurant is closed on Sundays.
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