New owner of Thai 9 in Dayton: ‘You don’t mess with something that’s so successful’

Credit: Natalie Jones

Credit: Natalie Jones

Dayton entrepreneur Tony Clark, who owns DK Effect and Gionino’s Pizzeria, will soon officially be the new owner of Thai 9.

Clark has been a fan of Thai 9 since he moved to Dayton from Tallmadge, a suburb of Akron, in 2008 to work at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

He was a cost, price analyst at the base for 11 years. During that time, he became one of the founders of Fifth Street Brewpub and then he opened his own bar/arcade on East Third Street called DK Effect. In 2019, he left his position on base to contract with Amazon as a delivery service partner and to open Gionino’s Pizzeria’s first location in the Dayton region.


Our reader's choice contest is back! Click here to nominate and help us choose our finalists

Clark recalled when Rob Strong and his wife, Nongyaw Phajaem, first listed the property in 2022.

“I just wasn’t quite in a position to acquire it. I didn’t have the right team. I was a little too busy in other things. It just wasn’t the right time,” Clark said. “As time went on, I noticed he had dropped the price a little bit and I found myself an opportunity to try to purchase it.”

Clark has been friends with Strong for several years. Strong is the owner of Canal Street Arcade and Deli and the two had previously worked together on pinball leagues.

“I’ve known Tony for years,” Strong said. “When I saw his name on the purchase agreement, I was like that cannot be the same Tony, it’s got to be the same Tony.”

Thai 9 is Clark’s favorite restaurant in the city. He said he didn’t want the restaurant to be sold and it not to be the same.

“When it comes to the food, the decorations and the ambiance of the establishment, there’s no need to change anything,” Clark said. “You don’t mess with something that’s so successful.”

Clark first showed interest in the restaurant in November 2023 and his management team has been working in the restaurant for the last six to eight weeks.

“He has a good group of people working around him for sure,” Strong said.

The only changes that could possibly be made at the restaurant would be procedural, Clark said. This would include things like adding more ticket printers in the kitchen to expedite orders. He hopes to expand hours, introduce a delivery service, add online ordering and maybe even a catering menu in the future.

“I like a challenge,” Clark said. “In this regard, I’m looking forward to going in and seeing if we can just grow it ever so slightly. It is so popular and has been so busy, if we can grow a little bit via delivery or extra hours, I think that’s a huge success. And then of course maintaining the review and qualities that they’ve had for 21 years.”

This is not the first time Clark has purchased a longtime establishment. In 2020, Clark bought the Main Street Deli in Findlay that had been operating for nearly 40 years. He’s proud to say that he has maintain it’s quirkiness and popularity.

Thai 9 offers authentic Thai cuisine, traditional sushi, sashimi and an extensive wine, craft beer and spirits list.

Strong said they will miss the people that they’ve worked with the most, especially the employees that have been with them since day one. The couple plans to spend more time with family. Strong will continue to own and operate Canal Street Arcade and Deli.

More details

Thai 9, located at 11 Brown St. in Dayton’s Oregon District, is open 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m. Friday, 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday and 5 to 9:30 p.m. Sunday.

For more information, visit

About the Author