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Columbia Pike’s Rincome Thai is set to close this month after nearly 40 years

After nearly four decades, Rincome Thai is set to serve its last pad thai this month.

The Columbia Pike mainstay is closing up shop in the coming weeks, co-owner Mihee Pansiri confirmed to ARLnow.

“We’ve been here since 1985. Since the pandemic, we’ve lost some customers and some staff,” she said, who owns the restaurant with her sister Miok An. “It’s just too much for us to go on. It’s time for both of us to retire.”

It remains a bit unclear exactly when Rincome Thai’s last day might be at 3030 Columbia Pike, occupying a corner space inside of the Days Inn. Pansiri said they are talking with the landlord about getting out of the lease, but she expects they’ll stop serving some time in mid to late February.

While secure in the decision they’ve made, it’s still tough for the owners and locals alike.

“My customers are really sad. They want us to be here forever, but that’s not possible,” Pansiri said. “I just really appreciate them, they always came out even during the pandemic and even did a GoFundMe to [help me] keep my staff.”

As a thank you, she is giving out her recipes to regulars and is considering putting on a workshop in the coming weeks to teach those who are interested how to prepare some of Rincome’s most popular dishes.

“Some chefs don’t like to give out their recipes, but my customers are like family,” she said. “Some have been coming here since they were dating and now they are grandparents. Their kids are bringing their kids. I don’t mind giving away my recipes.”

Pansiri and her sister opened the restaurant in 1985 with Pansiri’s husband, who has since died. She explains they did it with just “a few dollars” and a generous loan from her parents. The sisters are Korean-American, but Pansiri’s husband was Thai. So, they created a restaurant that eventually infused both cultures onto its menu.

“We offer kimchi fried rice. It’s delicious,” Pansiri said. “It’s mom’s recipe. I don’t buy it from the store.”

The hot sauces, too, have Korean influences, she said. Pansiri can still be seen in the kitchen, working alongside a cook that’s been with her for 35 years.

To this day, Pansiri and An both live a three-minute walk from Rincome. It’s these walks to work, she said, that made her realize it was time to finally close.

“My sister and I can still walk and enjoy going on vacation,” Pansiri said. “I don’t want to quit when I can’t walk. Then, I wouldn’t be able to do anything.”

She’s also clear that Rincome closing doesn’t have much to do with all the development going on around Columbia Pike in recent years. Pansiri said it’s generally been a good thing for business, getting new customers and having “younger couples” discover her small Thai restaurant, even if she doesn’t have the heart to tell them they’ll be closing soon.

While sad that Rincome is in its final weeks, Pansiri knows it’s time to finally hang up the apron.

“I love what I’m doing,” she said. “It’s really sad and I wish I could go, but… it’s time.”

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