Blacksburg’s lifestyle center First & Main may have a new director of marketing, but her face is probably familiar to many town residents. PearAivey Street has lived in Blacksburg for seven years and owned three very popular restaurants with her family. Two of the restaurants that still serve the community – Café de Bangkok and Next Door Bake Shop – are favorites with both locals and college students.
Born in Thailand, PearAivey moved to the United States to attend college at Purdue University where she studied management and finance. Instead of returning to her home country, she decided to follow her dream of starting a business in America. “I visited my sister Pie while she attended Virginia Tech, and I just love Blacksburg,” she says. “I thought we could bring something different to town back in 2006 when there weren’t many international restaurants. So my sister Pie, a cousin and I opened Café de Bangkok and decided to serve authentic Thai flavors and a variety of foods that we enjoy eating.”
In the summer of 2010, PearAivey and Pie – who always wanted to own a coffee and bake shop – opened Next Door Bake Shop with a menu of baked goods with Asian flavors. An unmistakable cornerstone of the North End shopping area, Next Door Bake Shop is popular with students who enjoy such delights as banana chocolate bread, blueberry scones, lavender soy tea latte, tomato pie, other breakfast and lunch foods and cookie baskets. Back in the day, the sisters would come in early to prep the kitchen, bake all morning and then take turns heading to Café de Bangkok to help the chef in the afternoons.
PearAivey relates that during those years, she loved running Next Door Bake Shop because she would see customers every day – some who became close friends – and became more active in the community volunteering for non-profits and supporting local causes. “If you work with passion and try hard every day to do things that help brighten the lives of people around you, the community will support you.”
PearAivey and her sister didn’t have previous restaurant experience before opening their businesses. However, their parents had restaurants, clubs and real estate investments in Thailand when they were growing up. “We grew up learning about how to run a business; we knew what it took and how important it was to be available to your customers,” states PearAivey.
That same work ethic and accessibility is what PearAivey hopes to bring to First & Main. “We want New River Valley residents and visitors to view us as part of the community, adding to everyone’s quality of life when here. We know that Blacksburg is a great place to start a small business, and we are happy that many local business owners choose to operate at First & Main. In the future, we hope to have more events and quality programming to bring people together at the center and celebrate the businesses that are here.”

Text by Krisha Chachra

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