Thammasat Cafe Employing the Deaf Faces Closure

Yimsoo Cafe at Thammasat University

BANGKOK — A cafe fully staffed by workers with impaired hearing at Thammasat University’s Tha Prachan campus may have to close down for good in November due to the expiring contract, the owner said Monday.

Yimsoo Cafe’s owner, Wiriya Namsiripongpun, said by phone Monday that the university has not offered any contract renewal so far, even after a coffee chain withdrew from a concession bidding against the cafe. 

“I’m not sure what will happen,” Wiriya, who is also the president of the Universal Foundation for Persons with Disabilities and a law professor, said by phone. “We will probably have to find a new place, but there’s nowhere in mind yet.”

Wiriya first posted about the cafe’s fate on his Facebook Friday night: “Our Tha Prachan branch must close…which will put people with disabilities here out of work.”


He continued, “I am saddened that my efforts to find work for disabled people ultimately lost to capitalism. Please help me share my feelings of sadness and disappointment and act as a voice for the disabled.”

Under the current agreement, Yimsoo Cafe’s Tha Prachan branch will be open until Nov. 24. Wiriya said his organization will try to find work for the four employees currently working there. 

Yimsoo Cafe had been paying 15,000 baht in rent. Wiriya said he bid for an increase in monthly rent to 25,000 baht after the contract ran out, but lost to Amazon Cafe’s higher offer of 30,000 baht. 

The coffee chain giant announced Saturday, however, that it had withdrawn the bid. The chain said that seven of their branches also employ people with hearing disabilities. 


Yimsoo Cafe’s Thammasat University, Tha Prachan campus, branch is located in the Faculty of Law and opens 7:30am to 9pm on weekdays and 7:30am to 6pm on weekends and will be open until Nov. 24. Their other branch in Soi Arun Amarin 39 is open 7:30am to 6pm daily. Yimsoo Cafe delivers via Line Man app.

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