As was explained to me by my dear late friend, Bob Daley (who had a heart transplant and became known as Bob Newheart), the Chan Dara chain (I guess you call 4 restaurants a chain) is owned by 2 different people. I have nothing to corroborate this story, and that, in part, is why I appeal to you, the Chowhound, to see if the story has any basis in truth.
To hear Bob tell it, the man who originally owned the chain had a beautiful Thai wife. They hired beautiful Thai girls to serve in the restaurants. Unfortunately, things didnt turn out as planned with the marriage, and they separated (divorced?).
As a result, the chain was divided.
On the one hand you have the restaurants on Cahuenga and Larchmont.
On the other hand, you have the restaurant on Pico.
I forget when the Marina was opened, but I think Bob died before that.
Absent anyone to really ask whether this was true, I always just assumed Bob was right. Upon reflection, though, it seems to me that there is a distinct difference between these locations.
When I go to Cahuenga, the food is pretty good. I like the Pad Thai (surprise), and the deep fried whole catfish is really good. In fact it rivals Shiro in taste but lacks the presentation.
Ive only been to Larchmont a few times, but it seems similar in the sense of ambience to Cahuenga.
Contrast that with Pico. Whenever I go to this place, it's loud, and there are many more beautiful, exotic-looking Thai girls. In fact they are draped all over the place. There is a lively bar there, with a bartender playing the crowd. And unlike the other locations, the food is presented on trendy colored and shaped plates.
Maybe this is a business strategy; but I don't know of any reason Bob wouldn't have the scoop...
So does anyone know the story? Is there a story?