Thai riverside restaurant finds silver lining in floods

Customers of the riverside Chaopraya Antique Café react to a boat’s wake as they enjoy themselves in the extraordinary high water levels in the Chao Phraya River in Nonthaburi, near Bangkok, Thailand, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

A flood-hit riverside restaurant in Nonthaburi, a busy town neighboring Bangkok, has drawn the attention of several international media agencies after becoming an unlikely dining hotspot in the face of the current widespread flooding in Thailand.

As the seasonal floods wreak havoc across the country and forcing businesses to close,  the Chaopraya Antique Café is as full as ever, offering an experience the canny owner calls “hot-pot surfing,” according to AP.

Reuters reported that the rising tide of the Chao Phraya river this week came as an unexpected opportunity for its owner Titiporn Jutimanon.

Instead of closing for the floods, Titiporn’s eatery is making waves in Thailand, staying open for customers who are reveling in shin-deep dining, and the thrill of avoiding the rush of water set off as boats go by.

(Photo by Chaopraya antique Cafe Facebook)

“Customers absolutely love the waves,” said Titiporn. “What I thought would be a crisis turned into an opportunity.”

Videos have gone viral on social media of customers sitting on drenched chairs, taking mouthfuls of food as long-tail boats buzz by, then moving out of the way as waves hit.

The restaurant opened in February in a riverside location that perfectly complements its antique architecture and décor.

“This is a great atmosphere. During this flood crisis, this has become the restaurant’s signature attraction. So I wanted to challenge myself and try out this new experience,” 24-year-old Siripoj Wai-inta said as he munched his food with the water creeping up his shins.

Owner Titiporn, who is a well-known TV presenter, said he was worried what would happen when the floods came.

“It turns out the customers have a great reaction. They are happy. We can see the atmosphere of customers enjoying the experience of eating in the water. So a crisis has turned into an opportunity. It encourages us to keep the restaurant open and keep customers happy.”

Best of all, he said, it means he can keep his staff happy by keeping them employed. So, even amid harsh economic times, the only thing that needs a bailout is the restaurant itself.

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