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Meet Pud Dechkla: Rising Star at Fish Cheeks

Naomi Banks | 13 March, 2024

            Meet Pud Dechkla: Rising Star at Fish Cheeks

For Women's History Month, we interviewed Pud Dechkla, also known as Pita, from Bangkok, Thailand, and currently serving as the Front of House Manager at Fish Cheeks. Starting as a Server two years back, Dechkla quickly climbed the ranks, infusing her cultural heritage into the restaurant's family-style dining experience. Despite initial hurdles, she earned praise for her leadership, drawing inspiration from her parents and the vision of owner Jenn Saesue. With pride in her journey, Pita reflected on her resilience and contribution to promoting Thai culture in New York.

Her responses have been edited for length and clarity. Check out the interviews with owner Jenn Saesue and managers Aditi Sonajirao and Christina Stopielo by clicking on the hyperlinks.

Purchase the only print signed by the owner to support a worthy cause. 100% of the proceeds of the signed print benefit the Brooklyn Community Service's Transitional Living Community women's shelter.

What does it feel like to work at Fish Cheeks?

Dechkla: Fish Cheeks is friendly, challenging, and fun. I love working here because I'm able to show my culture and our traditions. In the restaurant, we do family style, but typically Americans do individual plates. We want to pass this experience to them. It's an honor to work in a competitive environment, especially as a woman working with somebody like Jenn. She's very great and brings me a lot of pride.

Talk me through how having a women-dominated staff impacts the flow of the restaurant.

Dechkla: I started as a server, so it was already tough for me. Moving up to this position was not easy at all. Getting acceptance and respect, especially from male staff, was challenging.  One day I’m a server and the next day I’m their boss. Little by little they notice how capable I am as the manager.I’m happy that I can see how Jenn works and replicate her management style in my own way. 

Women employees bring a lot to the table. In general, they pay more attention to the details, provide attentive services, and foster a welcoming atmosphere. Male employees also bring other qualities to the restaurant, but the nature of the woman is generally more empathetic and patient. When de-escalating situations, I have found myself empathizing with customers and resolving issues quickly. 

Who are the elders that have influenced your work ethic?

Dechkla: My parents have a lot of influence for who I am today. They are very strict teachers who had high expectations for me. I grew up following their work ethic. I also pick up qualities that I see from people at my workplace, especially Jenn. She is a big inspiration for me. She is someone who I look up to as a smart, talented, and hardworking woman. Fish Cheeks started as an idea for her. Being able to witness that the idea go and keep going to a level that no one ever thought of is something I cannot put into words. It means so much to me watching a fellow woman from Thailand grow our culture more than anybody in New York. People know Pad Thai and Thai curry. On our menu, she doesn't even have to sell Pad Thai or the more common dishes that foreigners or American people know as Thai food. She showed our customer that Thai food and our culture has more to offer.

How proud are you of yourself?

Dechkla: I am so proud of myself. It was challenging for me because I'm not a native and I didn’t speak English out loud too much before I moved here. I learned how to navigate life in New York by myself alone because all my family is  in Thailand. In Thailand, I worked as an event planner and it feels similar to the restaurant – keep moving and being productive. Working here, you see different people every day, and encounter different situations every day. I am happy to improve myself to be here as much as I can. I'm so proud that I can be a successful part of the management team at Fish Cheeks.

Fish Cheeks is located at 55 Bond St,. New York, NY 10012 and is currently open on Sunday through Thursday from 12:00 p.m. to 10:15 p.m, and on Friday and Saturday from 12 p.m. to 11:15 p.m., with happy hour from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00pm. (212) 677-2223

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