Nearly a year after Hurricane Sandy ripped through its dining room, Thai Rock restaurant will softly reopen its dining room tonight in Rockaway Beach, a Long Island peninsula located in Queens, New York. Owner Robert Kaskel explains that he's "putting a line in the sand" by reopening the indoor space even though it won't yet have a fully functioning kitchen or a full menu. Though he worries that diners have grown impatient with only a handful of menu items, Kaskel says that at this point he has no choice but to reopen. "Most important for us is to keep the cash flowing because right now I've been out of business for effectively three weeks," he says. "I can't keep going like this."
Thai Rock had partially reopened over the course of the Summer, serving a limited menu and drinks on its back deck. But Kaskel had to close the restaurant once again in early September when the weather turned cooler and only a couple of tables a night were willing to brave the outdoor seating. After a few weeks of opening sporadically on warm days, Kaskel is ready to invite diners back into the main dining room.
For now, the offerings remain limited to Thai Rock's Thai Grill menu, which includes pork skewers, curry-marinated chicken, pork chops, and lemongrass skirt steak. To make up for the lacking menu, there's been a (perhaps temporary) addition of a hamburger "with a Thai slant" to the line-up. Kaskel explains that the menu will ramp back up to to its full capacity over the next couple of weeks. The restaurant's walk-in will be hooked up on Monday, and the hood for the range should arrive today. After that, the cooks need at least two weeks of prep time for their house-made sauces before the full menu can return. On the plus side, Kaskel noted in Thai Rock's email newsletter that they've installed 24 draft beer lines, "the most of any place in the Rockaways."
To celebrate the return of both indoor and outdoor dining at Thai Rock, the restaurant is hosting a performance by singer-songwriters Walker Hornung and Joe Cang tomorrow evening. Expect the full menu — with new dishes as well — to return in late October. "I'm getting closer to that finish line," Kaskel says. "Even just two weeks ago, I was having a panic that I'm so close and I'm going to fall before I get to the end. It looks like I'm finding the way through it."
· Thai Rock [Official Site]
· All Thai Rock Coverage on Eater [-E-]
· All Hurricane Sandy Coverage on Eater [-E-]