ThaiPop offers a bright spot in pandemic-weary, construction-heavy Rochester

Two people stand in a photo inside a restaurant.
Ryan and Annie Balow, owners of ThaiPop of Rochester, Minn.
Photo by Bharath Wootla

A new Rochester restaurant seems to be defying all the odds. ThaiPop opened downtown this summer, despite a pandemic that has much of their customer base working from home, heavy construction that can make parking and getting to the restaurant a challenge, and a labor shortage that is troubling many in the hospitality industry.

Son-in-law eggs, a dish offered at ThaiPop in Rochester, Minn.
Photo by Tiffany Alexandria

Yet, owners Annie and Ryan Balow are managing to fill tables and staff positions. Part of their success lies in building a loyal following before opening their doors, through popups going back to 2014.

MPR News reporter Catharine Richert recently met up with chef Annie Balow.

To hear their conversation, click play on the audio player above.