Engineer Steve Cooley's travels took him to Asia, where he met and married a Thai woman. In their four years together, Steve and Atchara Cooley lived in Seattle and Tulsa before settling in Media when he joined Boeing in Ridley Park.
She found work at Thai restaurants, including Chabaa Thai in Manayunk and Flavor in Wayne but wanted a restaurant of her own. That's Thai Kuu (35 Bethlehem Pike, 267-297-5715), which opened last month at the Top of the Hill Plaza, where Shundeez was. It's open for lunch and dinner daily.
The snug BYOB, steps from a State Store, has undergone a stunning transformation to modern, its white tables and walls accented by splashes of orange. Menu ($13 to $21 for most entrees) is mainly Thai but includes some Japanese. Notably, there's rock cooking, where you're brought a sizzling rock to cook your own meat and seafood ($22 for tuna or salmon, to $35 for kobe beef).
With his planned Downingtown restaurant creeping over budget, John Brandt-Lee of Avalon in West Chester is using a novel way to get finished without dipping into his line of credit: Kickstarter.com, where entrepreneurs seek funding from potential customers. As of Tuesday, Brandt-Lee has received pledges of $3,985 toward his $10,000 goal. That's a fraction of the total budget for Avalon Pasta Bistro (78 W. Lancaster Ave.), but he says it "gives my project a community involvement and gives me better legs when I open the doors." Avalon Pasta Bistro is on tap for early June. Those who pledge will get custom parties and food. Brandt-Lee will get the money only if he gets $10,000 in pledges by May 27.
James, which won plaudits in Bella Vista, closed last Saturday as owners Jim and Kristina Burke want to set up a different concept in Center City.
A couple of closings: Tuscany Cafe (down after 17 years at 222 W. Rittenhouse Square) and Naked Chocolate Cafe (1317 Walnut St.). Naked Chocolate's Tom Block is talking about a revival elsewhere.
Eyal Aranya and Yoni Nadav, who love to eat healthfully and had a few bucks to indulge their passion, are behind Burger.Org, a colorful organic burger shop at 326 South St. (267-639-3425). Everything (beef, turkey, chicken, vegetables, even beverages) is organic. Layout includes a smoothie/espresso bar in the front and table seating. Late-night hours, too.
Firebirds Grill, a steakhouse chain in the vein of Redstone Grill, has scheduled an early fall opening at 91 Wilmington West Chester Pike in Chadds Ford. It has a spot in Newark, Del.
The Vetri Foundation's Great Chefs Event, assembling dozens of pot-bangers, is June 14 at Urban Outfitters at the Navy Yard. Details: vetrifoundation.org.