The Norman Transcript

June 14, 2008

‘Best kept secret’

By Julianna Parker

Transcript Staff Writer

Whispering Pines Bed and Breakfast has built a small but faithful clientele since it opened in 1999. The restaurant and lounge followed in 2002.

Now owner Rany Kchao is expanding to wine. He’s planted a five-acre vineyard and hopes to begin making wine with next year’s harvest.

But Kchao doesn’t come from a wine-making tradition.

“Cambodia don’t have no grapes, but … the landscape of the grape always take(s) my soul,” he said.

Kchao was born and raised in Cambodia, but fled the country during communist rule and eventually immigrated to the U.S. in 1982. He calls Jan. 7, 1982, his birthday, because that’s when he started his new life.

Kchao came to the U.S. with only $300 and worked in food service washing dishes and sweeping floors, but he said he never regretted his choice to come to America.

“Just to be born in the place called the United States is just a blessing; Don’t ask for anything more,” Kchao said.

He’s grateful for the opportunities he’s had in the U.S., marveling at the place he’s at now, owning his own business.

“If you can’t make it in the U.S., you can’t make it nowheres,” he said.

Kchao has kept that gratitude his whole life, along his tough work ethic. He and his wife, Terry, bought Whispering Pines Bed and Breakfast, 7820 E. Highway 9, after its previous owner had given it up, Kchao said. The couple, along with their son David and daughter Molida, cleared the land, added a pond and gazebo for weddings and added a fine dining restaurant. The chef at the restaurant is Rany’s sister-in-law, Chinda Kchao.

Kchao said he wants Whispering Pines to be a retreat for city-dwellers.

“You can’t find a place like this — Norman’s going to be filled with concrete,” he said.

Seven rooms are available at the bed and breakfast. Although it’s only a few minutes from the city, it feels like the country — but a well-manicured version.

The word has spread about Whispering Pines.

Norman resident Leonard Lang found out about the Whispering Pines restaurant by word of mouth, and now goes with his wife several times a year for special occasions.

“In the metro area of Norman, I guess you could say it’s the finest cuisine you can find — and the atmosphere.” he said.

The restaurant is made up of smaller, more intimate rooms with a fireplace. The waiter, David Kchao, is always attentive, Lang said.

“He is a remarkable gentleman, he is professional to no end,” Lang said.

Lori O’Brien, who lives near Whispering Pines off SH 9, also said she enjoys the quality of service at the restaurant.

She celebrated her birthday at the restaurant last week, and the Kchaos kept the restaurant open even though O’Brien and her husband were the only customers.

O’Brien said she loves the food and the elegant presentation, adding that she’s traveled a lot and this restaurant is world-class.

“I have yet to have anything there that I did not like,” she said.

O’Brien recommends the restaurant to everyone. She also said she knows people who have stayed in the bed and breakfast and had equally wonderful experiences.

“I really honestly believe that Whispering Pines Bed and Breakfast and restaurant there is Norman’s best kept secret.”

Julianna Parker