January 5, 2023, Nyack, NY. Newcomer to the Hudson Valley, Thai restaurant Bangkok Station is now open at 12 Park Street in Nyack. The restaurant, and the cuisine, are fresh and new. The building, which bears a strong resemblance to a railroad car, blends new with the old — restaurant service spanning nearly a century and a place in U.S. cultural history.
Mike Metzger, partner Leo Lasopi and Chef Nida Sarawong, Metzger’s wife, bought the business from the previous owners of Thai House.
“We were drawn to the place — a great location with ties to the history of the village,” said Metzger. “We couldn’t wait to get started. We hit the ground running with a full menu, even while renovations were still under way,”
Metzger, a native of Queens, NY, describes himself as “the American guy” in the new venture. Both Lasopi and Chef Nida grew up in Thailand. Nida’s kitchen features authentic recipes she brought from Thailand and collected in travels around the U.S. and abroad. Her hallmark is balance — creating the right combinations of spices and flavors that give each ingredient its own ‘voice’ in the dish. “Chef Nida is a classic foodie,” said Metzger. “We’ve toured the great eateries in the New York City area, picking up ideas along the way.”
The idea of opening a restaurant came up more than once. At first, it seemed like a pipe dream, according to Metzger. There were opportunities, but nothing felt quite right — until the couple saw an ad for 12 Park Street in Nyack.
“The previous owners wrote the ad completely in Thai, so you had to be fluent in the language to read it,” said Metzger. “When we saw it, and when we saw the location, we knew Nyack was the place for us.”
Metzger grew up in Oceanside and Long Beach, NY. His business experience includes a long career in sales and marketing database management, as well as more recent work as a ‘mate’ on boat charters out of Captree State Park, hosting up to 100 fishing enthusiasts on overnight excursions.
“I’d never been to Nyack, except to pass by on the thruway north to visit family in Albany,” said Metzger. “But the more I learned about it, the more I was drawn to it. I love water. The river was a big influence.”
“I also like bridges, but after initially commuting to Nyack from Queens, we’ve now put down roots and made the village our home.”
Ties to Queens nevertheless remain — for good reason. With the aftermath of the pandemic dragging on, Metzger says supply chain issues can be a problem for restaurant owners, but not so much for his core business.
“We shop fresh — every day or every other day,” said Metzger. “We don’t stock up too much. We go to the Asian markets in Queens where we can get imported specialty goods, herbs, spices and fresh produce.”
Consistent with Nyack culture, the new restaurant blends the diversity of Nyack today with deep connections to the history of the village.
“We’re happy to welcome Bangkok Station to Nyack’s eclectic community of over 100 restaurants, shops and service businesses,” said Nyack Mayor Don Hammond. “We’re especially pleased that, after nearly a century of providing home to successful restaurant businesses, the location at 12 Park Street will continue to thrive as a gathering place and a destination for good, fresh food.”
On the surface, Bangkok Station is an unassuming place, with a railroad ‘dining car’ vibe. But there’s more to it than first meets the eye. The building at 12 Park literally “arrived” in Nyack in 1947 — part of a uniquely American phenomenon of pre-fabricated ‘diners’ (often modeled after railroad cars) that could be easily installed and fit into awkward corners, empty lots, and other problematic spaces, with components designed to be easily transported over bridges and under tunnels on trucks, set up, and later moved if necessary.
The diners filled a growing need in the early 20th century, when the industrial world was expanding, people were working longer hours, going out more, and seeking inexpensive food at all hours of the day and night.
“The first diner at 12 Park was installed in 1928, replacing a barn in the tight corner at Park and New Streets,” said Mike Hays, President, Historical Society of the Nyacks. “Nearly 20 years later, the current building replaced the original structure, and continued as a mainstay in Nyack — the village’s only 24-hour restaurant, home to a bowling team during WW II, an all-hours haven for fire fighters and late-shift workers, and a hang-out for high school kids.”
“We’re excited to have this special location for our new restaurant — part of the history of Nyack,” said Metzger. “We’re looking forward to many years building our own traditions, not only as Nyack business owners, but as contributors to the broader community.”
What’s the outlook for Bangkok Station as a first-time restaurant endeavor? According to Metzger, entrepreneurship means trusting what you’re doing. “Nida leads the kitchen with great food,” said Metzger. “I’m the front-of- the-house guy. I enjoy hospitality, going a bit deeper and offering service that’s more than just asking ‘Is everything okay?’ As they say in baseball, you just need to trust your swing.”