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New Digs, Same Madness Mix Of Wacky, Tacky And Thai Creates Funky Atmosphere At Eatery’s New Home

Bangkok meets Elvis at the new Mad Mary’s Thai restaurant in Coeur d’Alene.

That’s how Hollywood art director Pat Tagliaferro describes his creation - a mix of Thailand and tacky ‘60s and ‘70s paraphernalia.

“The only thing traditionally Thai will be the cooking,” said Tagliaferro, who has worked on two dozen movies and lives in Hayden Lake. “This will be everything you would not expect.”

All of the booths will be thatched huts, the walls bamboo, and the ceiling a patchwork of upside-down, back-lit Chinese umbrellas.

But the lamps were scrounged from garage sales and look like something your grandmother threw away years ago. Lava lamps adorn the bar. Disco ball lights hang from the ceiling.

“Everything that was really bad about the ‘60s looks really great in this place,” Tagliaferro said.

Smokestacks rising above the thatched roof in front of the restaurant will churn out billows of smoke. A full-sized replica of Mad Mary will greet customers at the door with her trademark meat cleaver in hand.

“When you walk by she’s got this big meat cleaver and she’s coming at you,” Tagliaferro said.

Mad Mary is Eree Cameron, one of three owners of the popular Thai restaurant that originally opened on East Sherman in 1995. The two other owners are Mary’s husband, Tim Cameron, and family friend Bill Colacurcio. The trio plans a grand opening in three to four weeks at the new site on Northwest Boulevard, next to the Pines Resort Rodeway Inn.

Mad Mary’s is the third Inland Northwest restaurant that Tagliaferro’s imagination has adorned. The other two are the Bayou Brewing Co., a New Orleans-style complex in Spokane, and Heroes, a sports restaurant at NorthTown Mall. Tagliaferro has been enlisted to help design two other stores in the Bayou Brewing complex as well.

Mad Mary’s has a feeling of being under the sea, with huge tropical fish tanks, walls painted like waving seaweed and a full-sized scuba-diving mannequin floating from the ceiling above the bar. A huge marlin will emerge from the wall, its open mouth holding a picture of Mad Mary.

The difference between Mad Mary’s and his other restaurant projects, Tagliaferro said, is there’s no limit to what he can do.

“They want to really go over the edge, which is great. I haven’t found the boundary yet,” Tagliaferro said.

A stone wall surrounding one dining room has random items protruding from it, as if the masons couldn’t find enough rocks. A fire hydrant juts out of one wall, a flame thrower from another.

The idea, Tagliaferro said, is to make the place look as if it were slapped together with whatever was laying around.

The restaurant will be filled with pictures of Mad Mary, brandishing her meat cleaver. Meat cleavers also substitute for door handles and seem to be randomly stuck on every available wood surface inside.

All jokes aside, Mary said the thatched roof and bamboo walls remind her of the town in Thailand, 65 miles from Bangkok, where she grew up.

“The first day we brought all this stuff out, Mary got all teary-eyed and said, ‘I miss home,”’ said Debi Tagliaferro, Pat’s wife and partner in their art direction company, ArtDogs.

The restaurant will be open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. and some new traditional Thai selections will be added to the menu, Tim Cameron said. The restaurant will employ about 25 people, he added, up from eight at the former location.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo