Sam leaves the palace for the big city

02/14/2013

Shopping at the Palace Market might feel a bit different after Friday, when grocer Sajjapan “Sam” Ratchakamin will leave a role in which he has remained a social icon for the past eight years. His next move: Running his new restaurant, called Thai Garden, in Sacramento. Sam’s departure has led many regular shoppers and co-workers, including store manager Clint Dent, to reflect on the approachable manner of a man whom some have grown to recognize as the “life of the palace.” “He’s a super happy guy,” Mr. Dent said on a recent afternoon. Sam moved to the United States from Thailand in the 1980’s, before relocating to San Francisco. In recent weeks Sam has been bringing homemade Thai dishes to customers he noticed have an affinity for his native Cuisine, including Jay Soladay, owner of Point Reyes Surf Shop, to whom he delivered a “radically authentic” helping of coconut curry soup last week. A farewell potluck dinner is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. this Friday, February 15 in Joyce Kouffman’s music studio in the Tomales Bay Foods building. Friends and acquaintances are encouraged to bring dishes and musical instruments.