The Basil, Carson City's newest downtown restaurant. Nan Watanar, with her shining dark eyes and black hair tied neatly at the nape of her neck, is one of six partners. She was a waitress at Amimoto's, a Japanese restaurant in Carson City for years, before the business closed.
"I love the restaurant business," she said. "I know a lot of people here. I love my customers and I love serving people. It's my nature. Bob and I have been married 24 years," she said. "We have no children. Our life is here and I wanted something Bob and I could enjoy together."
Specializing in Thai cuisine, the restaurant has a natural tropical feel. Thai art decorates the walls, complimented by silk tablecloths in deep, rich tones. The restaurant is a family affair and the Watanars have included Nantana, Morakot, Suree, Rattinaan, and Mick. All of them are originally from Thailand.
"We'll be serving dishes from all the different regions," she said. "So the dishes can be spicy or mild, depending on the customers' tastes. Thai food is not hot," Bob Watanar said. Nan Watanar said Thai food has health benefits and she's taken special care to provide very healthy food at The Basil - right down to the water she serves.
"The suburban people of Thailand are very healthy," she said. "In Thailand, people don't use medications. They pick their food, herbs and vegetables fresh every morning so for me, fresh vegetables are very important." That's not to say, she hasn't picked up a few American habits along the way. "I've lived here long enough," she said.
The Watanars moved to Carson City in 1988 and they own and operate Pegasus Food Machinery Corp., a Mound House company that repairs, restores and sells canning equipment world-wide.
Working in conjunction with Bumble Bee Tuna, Bob Watanar's family once owned a canning operation in Thailand. His brother still runs the plant there, he said. When asked why they left Thailand, Bob Watanar didn't hesitate. Bob Watanar became a United States citizen after the Sept. 11 tragedy at New York's World Trade Center, a gesture in support of this country.
"There's good and bad in all countries, but this is a great country," he said. "We have a choice to say, a choice to pick. If you work hard enough, you won't fail."
"Thailand is the mother country. The United States is the father country," Bob Watanar said. In the best of American traditions, Bob Watanar said he would consider opening more restaurants in Northern Nevada, once this one is established.
"As long as we can maintain the quality," he said.
And from that... so The Basil Restaurant begins...