A Schenectady woman has announced she will open a new Thai food restaurant in the former space of Bangkok Bistro, which closed its doors five weeks ago.
Piyamas DeMasi was a server at the popular Thai restaurant for six years and spent a dozen years working for a food company in Thailand before moving to the United States in 2007. The new restaurant, called Thai Thai Bistro, will offer Thai food and a sushi bar like Bangkok Bistro, but the menu will include more authentic Thai cuisine than its predecessor, she said.
“I was always looking for a space,” said DeMasi, 38. “When my boss closed this to do another business, I felt like this was a good opportunity, you know? I always wanted to open my own restaurant.”
She and her husband, Leonard, have signed a five-year lease for the space at 268 State St., which sits on the first floor of the historic three-story Nicholaus Building at the corner of Erie Boulevard and State Street. They have a three-year option to renew and will get first dibs to eventually purchase the property if it is offered for sale.
The plan is to open the new restaurant around Oct. 1. DeMasi has to get approval from the Schenectady Planning Commission and has already submitted an application for review at the commission’s Sept. 18 meeting.
DeMasi said she expects to have about 10 people on staff to begin, including a new chef with experience running a kitchen at a hotel in Thailand.
She’s also begun remodeling the inside of the restaurant to her taste, setting up tables and chairs and the sushi bar. She hopes to do some work on the awning outside as well, so people can see the restaurant’s new name.
Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority Chairman Ray Gillen said he’s heard from the couple and will consider providing a grant of several thousand dollars to help with new signage. Nothing has gone before the board yet, though, he said.
“They want to do a canopy and a new sign, and we’d like to help them with that,” he said. “It’s a positive sign for downtown that the building was only vacant for a couple weeks and we’ve already got a new operator coming in with a lease and an option to purchase the building. We’re thankful for their investment.”
The owner of Bangkok Bistro announced in late July that he would be closing the Schenectady restaurant after six years.