Index | Next

The Columbia Press

Top News

An American success story

Owner of Nisa's Thai Kitchen becomes a U.S. citizen in ceremonies last month

Nisa Blackler takes the oath for citizenship. (Courtesy Bill Blackler)
By Cindy Yingst, Thursday, August 8, 2019

Do you know how many amendments the U.S. Constitution has? Nisa Blackler does.

Blackler, 49, has learned all kinds of things many natural-born U.S. citizens should know but don’t.

The owner of Nisa’s Thai Kitchen became a U.S. citizen July 10 during ceremonies at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services field office in Portland.

“Because I’m living here, I have to follow the rules,” Blackler said. “I know I’ll be more comfortable to stay here. If I stay as an alien, I don’t know what will happen one day in the future.”

Blackler grew up in Samutprakarn, Thailand, the oldest of six children. She met her husband, Bill Blackler of Warrenton, during one of his travels there selling food processing equipment.

He’d spotted her on a dating website and she was looking for someone with whom she could practice English.

After she’d made several trips to the United States, the couple decided to marry in 2013 and Nisa moved here to be with her new husband.

She’d been working as an accountant and supervisor, but could find local work only as a housekeeper.

“I knew she was capable of more,” Bill said.

Several things started working in her favor.

During her visits to America, Nisa had eaten at Kim’s Kitchen and gotten to know owner Kim Fuhrmann, who died in 2017.

Nisa began volunteering at the former Blue Ocean Thai Restaurant in downtown Astoria and became close with Chanaphon Lindquist, a cook and consultant who specialized in starting new restaurants.

While shopping at a second-hand store, Nisa bumped into Fuhrmann and learned that she was having health problems and had recently closed her little Korean restaurant.

Blue Ocean was having issues, too. The new owner couldn’t seem to keep employees and Lindquist had moved on to open two restaurants in Seattle.

Bill and Nisa initially leased the Kim’s Kitchen building in 2014, converting it to a Thai restaurant. Nisa convinced Lindquist, whom she refers to as “mom,” to return and help.

“She doesn’t work for us. She works with us,” Bill said. “We’re all team members.”

The partnership has been successful. They purchased the building in 2016 and many nights the restaurant’s parking lot and tables are filled to capacity.

A true American success story, perhaps. With one part missing: citizenship.

Bill did not prompt his wife to become a citizen.

“It was her deal. I couldn’t even tell you why she wanted to do it until listening to her just now,” he said.

But he was impressed with her determination and posted photos of the citizenship ceremonies on Facebook. The response was overwhelming.

“I feel even more proud now,” Nisa said. “So many people said very nice things and that they were proud of me. I never thought what I did would bring that reaction.”

And, of course, she knows much more about the United States than ever before. In addition to writing, speaking and reading English proficiently as required, Nisa studied the 100 civics questions that applying residents might be asked before immigration officials approve citizenship.

So how many amendments to the Constitution have there been? “Twenty-seven.”

“She says 27,” Bill sighed. “I have to go with that because I don’t know.”

Nisa Blackler with her husband, Bill. (Cindy Yingst)

Nisa Blackler at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services field office in Portland. (Courtesy Bill Blackler)

Nisa and Bill Blackler in Thailand (Courtesy Bill Blackler)

Nisa Blackler with the late Kim Fuhrmann, owner of Kim's Kitchen. (Courtesy Bill Blackler)

Index | Next