Entrepreneur Lisa Chang Cooks Up a Thai Legacy in Grand Rapids

By Mayra Monroy on April 10th, 2015 / Comments

Lisa Chang was nine years old when she began her journey in home cooking. As the eldest of six children, her introduction to the family restaurant business would come a few years later. Twenty years of being involved in the family restaurant business set the foundation for the wildly popular Grand Rapids favorite, Erb Thai.

“Asian cooking became a passion,” says Chang. “With the support of my family, along with my restaurant experience, I decided to open up my own restaurant.”

Since their opening in 2010, Erb Thai has grown from an idea in Chang’s head to a locally renown taste of Grand Rapids. The wildly successful healthy Thai restaurant has grown from a front on Wealthy Street to two more different locations. The expansion of Erb Thai has only broadened the horizon for Chang, who also is behind Boba Bliss, a blended bubble tea café, an extension of Erb Thai. Behind the scenes, Chang balances a busy work life as an entrepreneur with a job near and dear to her heart…being a mother.

“The hardest part of being a businesswoman is being able to balance both worlds of work and home,” says Chang. “As a woman entrepreneur, wife, mother of three boys, all under three years age, it can be quite challenging to maintain a traditional housewife lifestyle and [work life].”

Despite a hectic schedule, Chang finds the perfect fit. The Grand Rapids Business Journal recently recognized the self-proclaimed “SuperMom” as the owner of a “Top Woman Owned Business” in West Michigan. Between maintaining her strong family bond and running a successful business, Chang finds many rewards in both worlds.

“The most rewarding part of [my life] is being able to overcome all of these obstacles,” says Chang. “It only molds me into being a good role model for my kids and others. I’m also enthused to be able to create jobs for people in the community with all my businesses.”

Where would Chang and Erb Thai be without the Grand Rapids community to help her? The “small” big city has been an important factor in the success of Erb Thai. Grand Rapids is also the reason that Chang sees expansion plans for the restaurant in the future, with branding and future openings of new locations in the works.

“The help, assistance, support [and] business resources was offered willingly, even without asking. It’s a rare occurrence,” says Chang. “Normally, help must be asked for in order for it to be given, but not in this community.”

The pride that Chang has in her entrepreneurship resonates through the West Michigan Community, including fellow strongholds in the entrepreneurial world. A strong female role model inspires women in the community to persevere and that’s what Chang looks forward to.

“I believe that if the other businesswomen [in the area] and I have come this far, we’re definitely ready for more challenges and will lean on each other to overcome obstacles [and] reach the next level.”

Interested food enthusiasts visit www.erbthaigr.com for menus and locations.

About the Author

Mayra Monroy

Mayra Monroy

Mayra Monroy is studying communication and journalism at Aquinas College. A Texas native, she enjoys studying communication culture and the arts in West Michigan. She currently resides in Grand Rapids and works as a editor-in-chief for Aquinas’ collegiate student newspaper and a freelance journalist.