LAKE PLACID - Italian and Thai food have made for an interesting pair at 211 Main St., across from the Olympic Center, with the opening of the new Bangkok Thai Restaurant.
Michael Nicola, the owner of Nicola's, came up with the idea.
"It's different restaurants and different cuisines," Nicola said. "People come for sushi on Friday, and they come back Saturday for Italian."
Methanon Singhanaratha, Maggie Nicola and Michael Nicola, two familes, Italian and Thai, have formed a new business partnership, the Bangkok Thai Restaurant. (Photo — Matthew Turner)
Nicola bought the property back in 2002. After building and designing the restaurant, it opened in 2004. The building operated two separate restaurants then; Nicola's, which serves Italian food, and Grill 211 a steak house.
Starting in 2008 and 2009, Nicola said, the recession started to hit Grill 211. Suddenly people were less likely to treat themselves to an expensive steak, he said.
"Things hung on for a little longer here," Nicola said. "By 2010, I knew I had to make a move."
Nicola, who is a student of food and also an avid reader, said he began brainstorming for a solution, and that's when he came up with the idea of bringing in a Thai restaurant.
"I'm reading all this buzz about Thai food," Nicola said. "Right now Thai is the third most popular food, but it's also the fastest growing."
Bringing the idea to Lake Placid took a year for Nicola to get right. He began by looking for a partner who owned a Thai restaurant and wanted to relocate to the village.
Then he found the Singhanaratha family. Methanon and Kanyanee Singhanaratha owned a Thai restaurant in Connecticut but were looking to move out of the urban area.
"My friend lives here, and he told me it's nice here, and told me the people are nice," Methanon Singhararatha said. "I love Lake Placid; beautiful mountains and people."
The Bangkok Thai Restaurant has been open for just around one week, but Nicola said he is already seeing an improvement in business.
John Chootima, a member of the staff at the Thai restaurant said all of their food is made fresh.
"Everything is handmade from scratch," Choomtima said.
Choomtima said the "Bangkok sampler" is a good dish to try for a newcomer to Thai food because you get to taste everything on one plate. Some of his other favorite dishes were the yellow curry and the imperial duck.
Nicola, 58, has lived in Lake Placid for 40 years and also owns Mr. Mike's Pizza on Main Street at McKinley.
Nicola's daughter Maggie, 23, is also a part of the family business, working as a chef.
"I'm really excited about this change," she said.
Nicola hopes the idea catches on, especially with young people, so his daughter can maintain the business long into the future.
"It has been extremely popular so far," Nicola said. "The word is out on the street that Lake Placid has Thai food and it's good."