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Person Behind The Place: Cindy Gayte

September 7, 2021 - by Sandy Vo

Person Behind The Place:
Cindy Gayte

Restaurant Owner | Thai Kitchen Bird Pepper

Cindy Gayte is the owner of Thai Kitchen Bird Pepper but the story begins with her mother, Lisa Ruhl. Ruhl had a passion for cooking and wanted to introduce the indulgent flavors of Thai cuisine to the Pacific Northwest. In 1981, she opened the first Thai restaurant in the Seattle area, Bellevue Thai Kitchen. Keeping the business in the family, Gayte took over in 2009 and continued her mother's legacy with her own passion for food and hospitality. Bird Pepper was then opened in 2019. We caught up with Gayte on what makes Thai Kitchen Bird Pepper special and why she loves to work Downtown. 

What is something special that Thai Kitchen Bird Pepper offers?

Thai Kitchen Bird Pepper offers fresh and contemporary takes on authentic Thai dishes that pair well with our list of signature cocktails, curated wine and local draft beers. We have a modern design but it doesn't lose its cozy and inviting ambiance. Guests can enjoy watching sports at the bar, or an intimate dinner with friends and family in the upper mezzanine.

What is unique about Thai Kitchen Bird Pepper.

Bird Pepper rotates seasonal menu items, always offering a new culinary experience with each visit while maintaining house favorites. First-time diners, as well as regulars, can consistently share new experiences.

What are the most popular dishes / drinks on the menu?

Brody's Fried Rice is extremely popular and the Bangkok Chicken has been a staple since my mother opened the original Thai Kitchen in the early ’80s. We have a new dish coming soon called Ho Mok Pla, which is steamed salmon curry cooked with Thai herbs and spices. If you’re thirsty and love spice, be sure to try the Bird Pepper Margarita or the Tipsy Bird.

Why do you love working in Downtown?

Behind our bar sits a great community of regulars, as well as first-time out of towners. My favorite part of this is when these people meet and share stories, with us as the hosts.

Any favorite places to shop Downtown? 

In between lunch and dinner rush, I like to sneak off to Nordstrom. We’ve been getting pretty busy, so it’s nice (and dangerous) to have them just two doors down.

What are your favorite places to dine?

If I can talk my teenage son out of Chipotle, Bis on Main is our family’s favorite. Their food is delicious, management is terrific and you can’t beat their location. I highly recommend their crispy garlic chicken.

Any favorite hidden gems in Bellevue you would like to share?

I love supporting Hedge & Vine. Every neighborhood needs a local shop that sells unique gifts and home decor. Their staff is always so friendly and helpful too.

Follow Thai Kitchen Bird Pepper on Instagram for the latest menu updates!

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Person Behind the Place is part of the Heart of Bellevue: our campaign to showcase local businesses while connecting you with stories of activity, creativity and recovery. Find out about our campaign and explore more of what’s happening around Downtown.


Thai Kitchen Bird Pepper
563 Bellevue Square
Bellevue, WA 98004

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