Here’s an often-overlooked reason to shop locally: charities receive 250 percent more support from small businesses than big ones. Moreover, many small businesses offer a location for community groups to meet and connect. Here on the McKinley Living Blog, we try and shine a light on local businesses near our apartment communities in Ann ArborYpsilantiOrlando, and Tampa Bay. Why? Because we want our residents to get the most out of where they live, and we want our neighborhoods to flourish. That’s why we are interviewing local business owners to learn what drives them, why they love their city, and how our residents can follow all the cool things they do. 

So, shop local, do it often, and tell your friends to do the same. Now let’s get to our interview with Thai Inhmathong, Co-Founder (along with her mother) of Basil Babe, a popular Thai food & dumpling pop-up serving the Ann Arbor community. 

Small Business Profile: Basil Babe

McKinley Living: First off, thanks for bringing the people what they really needed, especially in 2020: Dumplings! That said, how, why, and when did you manage to start Basil Babe during a pandemic? 

Thai: I started making dumplings early lockdown in 2020. It was a way for me to keep busy during a really scary time and keep myself happily fed while in quarantine! I started delivering to friends and family for fun, then word got around social media, and Basil Babe was born.

best dumplings in ann arbor

McKinley Living: Basil Babe operates a little differently than a brick-and-mortar restaurant, correct? Can you explain your “pop-up” approach to serving delicious food? Further, I feel we’ll see a lot of changes to the food industry even post-COVID. Do you think you’ll continue with the Pop-Up approach? 

Thai: Pop-ups are incredibly special. It’s a one-time thing, you don’t know what’s going to be on the menu, and you don’t even know where you’ll be next. We follow our stomachs and hearts, and thankfully people in the food community have taken us into their restaurants and their establishments to ensure that we are successful. I would love to have a Brick and Mortar one day, but the fast-paced, exciting life of a pop-up business is really incredible. I love the flexibility. As for changes in the food industry, I don’t believe there’ll be too much change. I think pop-up culture opens doors for many types of people who might not have a culinary background but have always loved food and hospitality. 

A Mother and Daughter Team 

McKinley Living: How is it working with your mom on this fantastic project? What have you learned from her over the past year? 

Thai: My mom is my absolute best friend. Working with her has been incredibly rewarding. I get to learn more about cooking and the flavors of our culture from her. 

basil babe dumplings ann arbor

McKinley Living: Now is a time of grieving and sadness for our country, particularly the Asian-American community. We all must stand together against hate and discrimination. Please tell us about Basil Babe’s efforts to help uplift the AAPI community and how our readers can help. 

Thai: Basil Babe is currently donating all profits from our shirts sold here to the Stop AAPI Hate organization (as of this publication, orders for the shirts have expired). We are looking to find more organizations to donate to in the future and continue supporting and uplifting the AAPI community!

McKinley Living: What’s your favorite Basil Babe dish?

Thai: My mom and I’s favorite Thai dish to cook and eat together is Pad Kaprow, a Spicy Thai Basil stir fry. We have a dumpling flavor of it, and we also had it for our first pop-up. I really hope to bring it back on the menu soon! 

Stay Connected With Basil Babe

McKinley Living: Finally, how can people follow along on your journey and not miss out on the next delicious pop-up? 

Thai: Instagram: basilxbabe and Facebook: /basilbabe and! Instagram is the best place for more info, though. And I think my stories are exciting too! Lol.

If you have a small business in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Orlando, or Tampa Bay that you think we should feature, send us an email at

Read our business feature on BYOC Co. in Ann Arbor here.