By Janice Nesamani
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Living through a year of the pandemic has brought each one of us a set of challenges that we have had to overcome. For Rick Rinthalukay-Moore, it has been no different. Moore and his wife, Nita, are owners of Simply Thai, a restaurant located in Tukwila. He is also the founder of a fish processing unit in Georgetown called Sea Native USA Inc. Needless to say, both businesses have been affected adversely by the pandemic.
For Moore, though, this is just another challenge. In fact, when the going gets tough, Rick gets going. Laotian-born Moore moved to North Carolina as a young teen. A visit to Seattle, with the waters of Elliot Bay on one side and Cascade mountains on the other, was enough to convince him to make it his home.
“When my wife and I opened our restaurant in Tukwila, there were no Thai restaurants there,” Moore said. He claims he was inspired by John F. Kennedy, who famously said, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard…” Moore said, “Many thought I was making a mistake with the location, however, we persevered and became quite popular with the working crowd in the area.”
In fact, in 2008, when the financial crisis hit, Moore added salmon to his Thai dishes to drum up business and it worked. He even set up his fish processing unit (Sea Native) to primarily supply his restaurant with quality seafood, but began doing small projects for third-party businesses, too.
The dog lover even started smoking Columbia River King Salmon to make dog treats that he claims both he and his dogs enjoy. Things were okay until the pandemic hit—in March last year, everything came to a standstill.
“Through it all, my wife and I didn’t stop working,” Moore said. In fact, the couple sat down with their children and had a difficult conversation.
“We told them about our finances and life insurance policies in case we contracted Covid,” he said.
With no office workers, things at the restaurant were slow, but seeing long lines at food banks prompted Rick to take hot Thai meals to where he saw a need—a local fire station, for example. Rick had to furlough and lay people off at both his restaurant and plant.
“It was really a difficult decision, but we had kept them on despite not having enough business as long as we could,” he said.
Soon Rick realized he had to do something with the pounds of smoked salmon dog treats he had.
“In 2019, I had some success by setting up a stall during the Issaquah Salmon Days festival…People really liked my smoked salmon products,” he said.
It was then that Moore decided to procure and smoke enough products and head to events such as the Puyallup Fair, Folklife, and Bite of Seattle, among others.
“None of those events happened,” he said, explaining how his plans were laid waste. Now, with the new season around the corner, Rick, who parents two German Shepherds and four Chihuahuas, has a new mission: giving all his dog treats away.
“I did talk to some dog treat makers in the region who were very impressed by my smoked salmon treats and the fact that I snack on my dog treats, too,” Rick said.
“It’s really good quality, human-grade fish that I was using to make my treats,” he said. Having sold some of his treats through third party labels, Moore would like to see his product have a positive impact on pets in need.
“I see and hear about pets left out in the cold, neglected or uncared for, and my heart breaks,” Moore said. “I would like to do something to end it.” So, he’s sending out a message to dog owners in and around Seattle to email him at
firstname.lastname@example.org if they want some yummy salmon treats for their fur babies shipped to their homes. All he asks in return is that recipients make a donation to an animal rescue or shelter.
When asked about how giving his treats away at no cost will affect his businesses, Moore brushes away the thought.
“I guess I get it from my father. He would give the shirt off his back to someone in need,” he said. “I just want to put some good out in the world and help care for some animals through the process.”
Janice can be reached at email@example.com.