Popular Thai restaurant, Half Price Books to close in Concord

Two popular businesses in Concord will soon close their doors and at least one said it is due to rising rents.

Bangkok Kitchen, a Thai food restaurant, will close on Thursday after 25 years in business. Owner Peter Bumphenboon said his rent is increasing from $5,200 to $11,000 a month. 

“I don't think I can afford the rent so I have to leave,” Bumphenboon said.

Loyal customers packed the restaurant on Tuesday for one last meal. They said Bumphenboon has made them feel like family over the years.

“When I walked in I almost broke down in tears because this place means a lot to me,” Nelly Salgado, a Concord resident, said.

Leora Sarachek and her father have been coming to the restaurant for years.

“Peter the owner has always just been so kind to us. It's kind of like, ‘Hi we're back!’ They're always happy to see us,” Sarachek said.

Alex Simental drove from Fairfield after he heard about the restaurant’s closure.

“Me and my wife come here at least once a month. It's really good food,” Simental said.

Half Price Books, another popular business in The Shops at Todos Santos, will reportedly close in early May. It is unclear if its rent has risen, but the lease isn’t being renewed. An email to a Half Price Books corporate spokeswoman was not immediately returned.

Concord Mayor Carlyn Obringer said councilmembers have received numerous emails and calls from concerned community members about the closure of the businesses and they’ve heard the message.

“We're working very hard to help them find new spaces within our city and in fact they're taking a look at multiple sites,” Obringer said. “Half Price Books already has six letters of intent out and Bangkok Kitchen is looking at a site farther down Clayton Road.”

According to city leaders, the Shops at Todos Santos was purchased two years ago by Paragon Commercial Group and Long Market Property Partners. Significant upgrades were made to the businesses and rents increased as result. KTVU reached Long Market Property Partners by phone, but the company said it had no comment on rising rents.

Vice Mayor Tim McGallian said the area is experiencing a revitalization and the downtown shopping district has expanded. He said among the new stores that have opened, or plan to open, include Chipotle, Fire Wings, Ramen 101, and Burgerim. 

“All we can do is do our best to work with these existing tenants, work with the property owner and try to make sure we can find the best solution for everybody,” McGallian said.

Obringer said the city has been working with Bangkok Kitchen for two years in anticipation of its closure. They hope to find a new home for the restaurant soon. She said they are working to find the balance of keeping long-time businesses and encouraging new investments and planning for future population growth.

“We’d love to stay in this area,” Bumphenboon said. “I feel so sad I'm leaving this location.”

Bumphenboon has not yet found the perfect space to move to, but he’s gathered a list of roughly 300 emails from customers who are waiting to hear where he will end up. 

“We already told him wherever he goes, we're going to follow him,” Salgado said.