The women who rule The Duke’s

We look at the remarkable women running the show at The Duke's, Chiang Mai's favourite American restaurants.

By | Wed 9 Dec 2020

If we round up a list of legendary restaurants in Chiang Mai that have long been both locals’ and visitors’ favourite, it’s for sure that The Duke’s would pop up amongst the top spots.

The Duke’s is a western restaurant which has grown in both reputation and branches over the past 15 years, today having expanded to four branches across the city of Chiang Mai. The founders behind this huge success are David and Sophin Anichowski, who opened the restaurants offering quality meals, affordability and value and friendly hospitality. Preparing the freshest food and scratch cooking The Duke’s has been doing these things long before it was trendy and popular. These are the traditions and principles that they still follow today.

David and Sophin say that an important key behind The Duke’s success is in good teamwork. With over 200 employees working a multitude of roles both in the dining areas and behind the scenes, The Duke’s has always put more importance on hard work and passion over degrees and formal qualifications. The ability to learn new skills, to adapt, to practice and better themselves, are what they appreciate in their staff members. Each member of staff brings a different strength and skill, together contributing towards the team’s overall success.

Interestingly, the employees are overseen by a team of female powerhouses, most of whom have worked at The Duke’s from the ground up, helping to realize both the owners’ and their own dreams.

Sophin Anichowski (Founder of The Duke’s Restaurant)

The first person up and opening the door in the morning and the last to lock up at night, Sophin, nicknamed Pin, can often be seen cleaning garlic in the kitchen, running food to the tables, delivering pizzas to your school or catering your party. This lady does it all. She’s the one who talks to the staff and talks to the customers. She remembers everyone and everyone knows her. She can cook, clean and manage and did so over the last 30 years of being in the restaurant business with her husband, David, while raising 4 children.

Coming from modest beginning in Chiang Rai, Pin is the backbone of this organization. A testament to hard work and dedication while also getting to the core of the functioning of the restaurants. This, my friends, is what it is all about.

Aon Varaporn Jaiban (Head Culinary)
Aon is an example of moving up through the ranks to become the big boss. Aon started as a cook and is now head culinary at The Duke’s and has a lot of responsibilities. No fancy degree but just good old fashioned hard work and dedication. She says, “I’m now the one who teaches other staff to cook and pass on the recipes to each branch. I would check the taste and food quality. There is a lot more to learn every day and that makes me grow. When the staff I train can cook their food, I feel so happy.”

Asant, La Phai Khawn San (Manager of The Duke’s, Rimping Branch)

Asant has worked her way up through The Duke’s, from waitress, hostess, cashier and now manager of the main branch. As a restaurant manager, she has to take care of everything in the restaurant and interact with many people. She handles problems by staying calm and learning everyday.

Tiw Patchara Wongjumpa (Manager of The Duke’s, Promenada branch)

Tiw is another example that if you work hard and keep improving that you can do anything with your life. Tiw has been at The Duke’s for 12 years. She started as a waitress at the MaePing branch and has done it all and is now the manager of The Duke’s Promenada. Besides managing, stock checking and taking care of customers, Tiw can cook in the kitchen. She says, “The Duke’s has become an important part of her life, like another family”.

Ning Angkana Kannak (Manager of The Duke’s, MAYA branch)
Ning started as a waitress. Then she took on the role of cashier and bartender. She has learned almost everything in every position in the restaurant and now is a manager at Maya branch. She says she loves what she does. From her very first day of working here up until now, she has become more mature and handles difficult situations better.

Jib Saranya Kayundee (Manager of The Duke’s Ruamchok Branch)

“As a manager, I have many responsibilities. I have to take care of the staff, manage products and I’m still serving food and helping in the kitchen. There are about 30 staff in this branch and I have to know more and have been through such things before teaching and giving advice to others.”

Kwan, Pawarisa Sombutsook, General Manager
Kwan is responsible for events and PR and was the manager of The River Market when it was open. She juggles many balls and is a very important part of The Duke’s organization.

A, Pannee Aupatham (Bakery) and Ying, Jom Thongkam (Bakery)
When you come to the restaurants and see the great desserts, cakes and pies, they are all being prepared by these two women. No fancy baking degree, they were interested in baking and learned on the job.

Lalitpat Tungprasert, Office Manager

Lalitpat Tungprasert, Ped has been the big boss at The Duke’s for over 7 years. She runs the office and does everything from payroll to banking to HR and staff. She is at the top of the line. When Bangkok Bank or CityLife or one of the dozens of suppliers think of The Duke’s they think of Ped. Lately she has stepped back to working part time but in reality nothing has changed. When we talk about the women who rule The Duke’s there is no one that compares. She literally rules.

The Duke’s website