Calling it a “dream come true”, Enclave Cafe chef/owner Lan Thai recently acquired 19 acres of farmland in Bonsall where she plans to grow produce for her restaurants and create a retreat and education center that will revolve around her “food as medicine” mission.
Thai opened her first cafe in 2019 at JuneShine’s Scripps Ranch facility and has two new cafes launching soon on office campuses — a grab-and-go spot in Torrey Hills (3750 Carmel Mountain Road) debuting February 22 and an indoor/outdoor restaurant in the UTC area (4655 Executive Drive Suite 100) opening March 7. The chef says she’s looking forward to bringing healthy food into the corporate setting but says her ultimate goal is to provide food for hospitals.
A contract through the “Great Plates Delivered” program, which provided free meals to seniors during the pandemic, helped the chef to fund the farm purchase. It’s a full circle moment for Thai, also known as chef Lando, who was raised on a farm in San Diego after her parents emigrated to the U.S. from a refugee camp in Thailand where they’d fled to during the war in Vietnam. .
Borrowing greenhouses from her father’s farm, Thai also plans to add to the existing avocado and citrus trees on the Bonsall land, planting enough crops to supply nearly all of the produce for her growing collection of cafes with enough leftover to sell to other kitchens and fuel a CSA program. She would even like to rent some plots to other area restaurants.
Eventually, the Enclave Farm will be a fully-integrated retreat, housing cabins and an education center that will hold classes on farming, preservation, ancient cooking, and food culture with a commercial kitchen for coffee roasting and baking and animals to provide eggs and dairy. Thai says that she plans to host grand dinners on the farm, but her true goal is to make farm-to-table food easy to access and more affordable.