Cove Herald/TJ MAXWELL - Chamnong Barber, owner of Ms. Thai, pauses for a photo Wednesday at her restaurant on U.S. Highway 190 in Copperas Cove. The new restaurant, which opened in January, dishes up Thai food and Tex-Mex.

By Mason W. Canales

The Cove Herald

For Chamnong Barber, the kitchen is familiar. She has spent the better part of 25 years orchestrating pots and pans on heated surfaces inside her restaurants to feed hungry patrons.

When the chance came to open her third eatery, Barber didn't hesitate to bring a new business to Copperas Cove - Ms. Thai.

She chose the name for her business after her nickname. Originally from Thailand, a friend who worked with Barber at Coryell Memorial Hospital started calling her "Ms. Thai."

"People call me Ms. Thai," she said. "I tell that person, that is a nice name, and I wanted to use it."

But don't be fooled by the name. Ms. Thai serves a variety of food.

The business is open from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. and features Tex-Mex cuisine and southern-style dishes, such as sausage and egg burritos and biscuits, sausage and gravy. During lunch and dinner, Thai food enters with red and green curries.

Barber said she pulls her dishes from what she likes to eat and from her previous kitchen experience. She operated her own kitchen in Thailand for nine years before opening the Court House Cafe in Gatesville, which she ran for 11 years.

After moving to the U.S., her family visited Mexico, said

Barber. "I enjoyed the people in Mexico very much and started eating their food."

Wanting to make the dishes for herself, she started cooking them for patrons, too.

The concept behind Ms. Thai is freshly made food to go. But Barber wanted to offer something different from drive-thru fast food.

"I am really good at cooking," she said. "I am just working hard to make food very good and work very hard to make very fresh food."

Coming to Cove

Barber entered the restaurant business in Thailand with her husband so they could work together, but the couple divorced in 2007.

The family sold the Gatesville restaurant, and Barber started to work for the hospital to make ends meet.

"I was terminated from the hospital," said Barber, explaining she was fired for a misunderstanding. "I started looking for a location to open my own business."

She scoured U.S. Highway 190 for a good spot in the city and found the Old Dawg Shack, which was a former drive-thru coffee shop. The price was good, and she opened the business with the savings she earned while working at the hospital for a year.

Ms. Thai opened in late January.

Contact Mason W. Canales at or (254) 501-7474. Follow him on Twitter at KDHCoveEditor.

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