Sugar Club, or La Namtan, as it’s known in Thai got its start in 1989 and quickly grew to become a hub of both food and culture for the Thai community in Elmhurst, Queens. It was one of the first places Chirawat “Jimmy” Withanwattana visited when he came to the United States.
I went to Sugar Club the second day I was in the U.S. to take a look at the Community Board,” Withanwattana recalls. “My roommate told me, ‘You have to come to this place to take a look at job, place to live, which restaurants have jobs available.’”
Withanwattana and his wife took over what was then a tiny shop in February 2011 and in December 2014 quadrupled the store’s size adding a cafe, hundreds of items from all over Thailand, and dozens of locally made Thai specialties.
As befits the name, Sugar Club’s cafe sells plenty of desserts including an updated version of the Thai classic mango sticky rice that features pandan-scented rice and mango ice cream. Other favorites are the banana and egg roti with sweetened condensed milk.