It’s an experience that has filled Greg with a range of emotions. One moment he’s talking of the “heartbreaking” visit to the slums in Klong Toey and other lesser known but equally deprived areas of Bangkok, and the next he’s relating how he’s moved by the kindness of his fellow volunteers and the genuine gratitude expressed by the people who wait in line quietly and patiently for these vital supplies. “They are so desperate, but so thankful,” he says. “People are always extremely polite, even when we run out of food to give them,” says Greg, adding that he tries to keep a few ‘extras’ on the side so as not to disappoint the last few in the queue.
Sadly, there’s no sign of the current situation easing in the near future, which will require Greg and others to continue their good work. “One meal doesn’t solve the problem,” he says.
Born: Nebraska, USA.
Family: Two kids in the US, John 23 and Stephanie 27.
Education: University of Nebraska.
Languages: English and a little Thai, Spanish and German.
When did you arrive in Thailand? 2001.
What’s your job in Thailand? Owner of restaurants – Sunrise Tacos and majority shareholder of a company that owns 12 Subway outlets.
Before that? In the US, I was for many years in the brokerage business. When I first arrived in Thailand, I owned a business brokerage, Sunbelt Asia, which is part of a worldwide chain of 280 such businesses. One of my customers was Subway, the sandwich franchise. After interviewing 365 candidates on behalf of the company in Thailand, I thought “I could do that” and I did. That was back in 2002. Incidentally, note the letters ‘SU’ at the start of all my companies’ names!!
Why go into the food business?
Easy – I love food. And when we started Sunrise Tacos, there weren’t many Mexican restaurants in Bangkok.
What brought you here? I met a Thai lady – like most foreign guys. She was a vice-president in a major company here, and helped me set up my business brokerage. We’re no longer together. New partner now is Ammy, also a Thai. We both love business, as well as travel and see the World but always love coming back to Bangkok.
Where do you live?
A condo on Sukhumvit Soi 10.
What’s keeping you here?
Sunrise Tacos. I love the business. And I enjoy Thailand, everything about it: the people, expats as well as Thais. I feel alive here.
Any plans to expand your chain of Sunrise Tacos? Currently we have 10 outlets and are looking for more, especially delivery points.
Your favorite cuisine?
Mexican, of course.
Beer or wine? Beer.
Whisky or margarita? Margarita. That’s easy.
What are the highlights of your time in Thailand? Definitely witnessing so much kindness as we hand out food and food packages to the poor and needy during the Coronavirus 19 lockdown. How the volunteers and all the people have come together at this time. And I’ll never forget the gratitude of those we have helped.
Any low points? As an entrepreneur for many years, we’ve had many challenges thrown at us – the coups, lockdown at the airport, floods, Sars, Bird Flu, you name it. Now we have this virus, which is a low point but the way people have come together is actually a high point. Everybody was saying last year that 2020 was going to be great year.
Any advice for newcomers to Bangkok? Anybody who does well in business here would do just as well anywhere in the world. It’s nothing to do with luck – you have to make your own luck.
Best thing about Bangkok? The feeling of being alive – it’s a living, breathing city, and until recently, this went on 24 hours a day.
Worst thing? The traffic, of course.
Your favorite Bangkok restaurants (apart from your own)?
Have A Zeed in Terminal 21, Bully’s pub and Suda, a simple Thai restaurant on Sukhumvit 14.
Any favorite getaways?
Ko Lipe in southern Thailand, and Khao Yai.
Best friends: Many. Friso, Paul and Dee were all friends of mine before, now after working together as volunteers, we have all become best friends. My girlfriend Ammy and I are frequent visitors to the UK, we also have a lot of British friends over there. We love the small villages and countryside.
What do you do in your free time? I don’t have much free time now, with helping others most days, but I enjoy reading on the Internet and debating online various topics. Ammy and I always love to travel, two months every year. We usually are in Europe around this time, it’s a perfect time.
How has the lockdown impacted you and your business?
Well, for the past two months our restaurants have been mostly empty, but our home delivery business is doing very well and why we are looking to expand to other parts of Bangkok.
I enjoy giving to people. I am also one of those who is pro-government in this lockdown. I believe the numbers they tell us and although they have made some mistakes, I think they’re doing a good job.
How are people in general coping with the lockdown?
The problems haven’t gone away. People are out of work.
What will happen after the lockdown?
The good old days won’t be coming back anytime soon.
How long can you continue to be a volunteer helping others ?
Before covid, I sponsored five kids in the slums. Poverty is just not going to go away. If you like to also help.
Pls checkout https://www.weeboon.com/en/campaign/5-kilo-of-rice-and-canned-food-
For you, is Thailand for life?
Finally, on a different note, Trump of Johnson as a leader of a country?
Johnson. His passion is inspirational.