A lot of business workers from downtown will be happy to read this: Thai Bay is open again, and most of the favorite foods from the past are still on the menu.
Don’t all go at once – it’s a small, tucked away spot on Old Okeechobee Road in West Palm Beach. With only 20 seats indoors and 10 outside, it’s much smaller than the two big rooms that overflowed with lunch crowds at the former location on Okeechobee.
Dean Hoffman, who opened Thai Bay in 1988 with his wife and recipe source, Voonsom, says construction held up process.
“The last couple of months, I made a prediction on the answering machine when I expected to reopen. It would fall through, and I’d have to rerecord it. Finally, I just took it off and quit making a prediction altogether, and just said ‘soon.'” The restaurant opened quietly on April 1.
Along with Aleyda’s Mexican restaurant, Thai Bay’s lease was not renewed by the landlord at the old place. Hoffman said the landlord gave as the excuse, “They wanted new faces.”
Thai Bay opened 25 years ago
The restaurant had thrived since opening in 1988 to enthusiastic diners catching on to Thai cuisine. Hoffman knew it well: He was stationed in Thailand during his 24-year Air Force career, and met his wife there. “She’s from an area 40 miles from Bangkok. She’s the one who wanted to open a restaurant, and these are her recipes,” he said.
After expanding into a space next door to accommodate the bustling lunch crowds, the owners saw business drop after the 2008 downturn. “Our business went down 40 percent,” Hoffman said. They gave up the lease for the second space and when the lease was up this time, the landlord exercised the non-renew clause.
The restaurant’s workers put out the word that owners were looking for a new location, but it turns out the landlord of the new place was a customer of Thai Bay, and offered half the building to Hoffman. The rest is currently housing a sandwich shop. Though it’s small, there’s a possibility of expansion at some point, Hoffman said. “Things are beginning to pick up again. We hope the economy turns around.”
What’s new? The daily blackboard specials are gone and instead, soup or salad is included in every meal. Much of the old menu, with a mix of stir-fries and noodle dishes as well as entrees and their Tom Kai Gai signature soup remains intact.
A few lawyers and other downtowners have found it, and take-outs are popular. Hoffman said word’s spreading. “A lot of our old customers are back again.”
- 1000-A Old Okeechobee Road, West Palm Beach (west of Parker Avenue)
- Phone 561-832-6091; thaibayrestaurant.com
- Hours: Lunch, Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; dinner, Monday-Saturday, 4:30-10 p.m. Closed Sunday.
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