Gati Thai Bistro Closes Doors, To Be Replaced by Udon Restaurant

Sweet and sour pad thai, fragrant fried rice, warm curry, sweet mango sticky rice, and milky Thai ice tea — student favorites from downtown Andover’s Gati Thai Bistro — will no longer exist at the widely beloved restaurant, which closed its doors on April 22.

While Gati will no longer have a physical location, customers can still order online for delivery and take-out from Thai Sweet Basil, Gati’s sister restaurant. In the downtown restaurant scene, Melanie Kanchanamakanon owns both Thai Sweet Basil and Akita Ramen, also well-known names for Andover students, with her husband.

According to Kanchanamakanon, the space will be transformed into an udon restaurant by the name of Kokoro Craft Udon. Kokoro, which means “heart” in Japanese, will be owned by Kanchanamakanon as well. Featuring handmade noodles, the new udon restaurant is set to open in two weeks.

“We planned for Akita Ramen [to] open for a year already, but before that, we flew over to [Los Angeles] to learn from the Japanese people, to make from scratch, build the broth and the noodles… We have [a] good opportunity over there at [Gati’s] location right now, so we just thought this town has another opportunity for Japanese food again… We will make our own noodles… We have been planning to open the udon [shop] for a long time, because we have to plan the timing [and] order the machine from Japan for four months,” said Kanchanamakanon.

Having worked in the restaurant industry for ten years, Kanchanamakanon’s passion for food stemmed from her mother’s own love for cooking. When Gati’s predecessor One Thong Chai shut down in 2017, she saw an opportunity to introduce farmhouse Thai flavors to Andover.

“I have been cooking [since I was] less than ten years old, and I watched [my mom] cook. We put our passion into our restaurant…We love food, and my mom, she’s a good chef… All the dishes that you guys have [eaten are] my mom’s recipe and she cooked it. I grew up from her recipe[s]. I grew up from her food… Since cooking is everything in her life, she became my chef at the restaurant,” said Kanchanamakanon.

Kanchanamakanon recounted the many challenges Gati has faced over the years, including a two month shutdown and the Covid-19 pandemic. However, she shared how, with passion and patience plus the support of loyal customers, Gati gained business and popularity in Andover.

“We sold less than 50 dishes in the first week… so, we [had] to be patient…We thought we were [going to] have to shut down by that time, but luckily, I talked with my team, ‘We will be here, we will stand for this town, and the people [will] support us too.’ Phillips [Academy] and the customers in this town, they always support[ed] us and they came. [Gati] has become well known… to this town,” said Kanchanamakanon.

Sean Meng ’22 expressed his sadness at the closure of Gati, one of his favorite restaurants in Andover. As an international student from Hong Kong, Meng shared how Gati brought familiar flavors to downtown Andover’s culinary scene.

“I was quite devastated [when I found out]. Gati was a really special place for me and my friends, so not being able to go one last time was really upsetting… Andover being a suburb of Boston, it’s really rare or it’s really special to have a place that feels so authentic. There’s no other place like Gati to replicate Asian flavors. Being there was just like a taste of home. Particularly, there was one period, maybe my Upper spring. This was [during] Covid[-19] here, but they had this house special fried rice and it tasted exactly like what my family would make at home. I was really sad when they discontinued it my Senior year,” said Meng.

Beyond its food, Gati is less than a twenty minute walk from campus, making it a convenient and accessible location in Andover. Carolina Tieppo ’24 recalled when they and their friends celebrated three birthdays on the same day in Gati.

“Every boarding school, every college, has its little regional [features] on campus that students will include in their conversations and jokes and memes, and I think Gati was a really important one… I once celebrated a triple birthday party at Gati, and we brought ice cream cake from J.P. Licks… Great memories. I loved how we could join the tables together to create a really long table… I hope we can create memories as good as the ones we have in Gati in the new udon place,” said Tieppo.

Anthony Diaz ’25 believed Gati was the go-to place for students to relax and spend time with friends. He spoke on how he would be affected by the restaurant’s absence.

“[The closure of Gati] is definitely going to change how I look at that street whenever I’m passing by downtown. You don’t see it there anymore, and it’s an entirely different location. So, kids… start going to other places, [and] change up the culture [in Andover]… but with [Gati] gone, it’s just going to feel empty,” said Diaz.

Many students flocked to Gati for one last meal during its final days of business. Sophie Liang ’26, who dined at Gati before it closed, described her last interactions with staff members at Gati.

“The staff are always really nice. I went with my brother on the Saturday before they were closing, and at the end she gave us free Thai ice tea and was saying that she would miss having all the students coming to the restaurant, which was really nice to hear,” said Liang.

Reflecting on Gati’s connection to Andover, Kanchanamakanon expressed her appreciation for all the support that Andover students have shown Gati over the years. Kanchanamakanon also hoped that students will develop a similar affection for the new udon restaurant.

“We call Gati a second cafeteria [for] Phillips Academy. That’s what we noticed, especially [in those] three days before we closed, all the Phillips kids [came] here [to] support us for three full days. We got lines [of students waiting] too… [You’re] still welcome to come in. Try us. If we are not ready, we’re not going to open [the udon shop]. If we are not the best, we’re not going to do it. I hope that you guys will like us again,” said Kanchanamakanon.