In gentrification bingo – NYSHitty’s latest innovation – “Thai restaurants” get a square alongside pile drivers and $2 cups of coffee. Thing is, Thai restaurants have been a north Brooklyn staple for ages. Once upon a time (and it was not too long ago), Williamsburg had about two bars and three restaurants. And one of the restaurants was Planet Thai (when it was on Bedford and worth eating at – in fact, people came from Manhattan to eat there. For the food. Really.). Up in Greenpoint, Thai Cafe (probably the mother ship of North Brooklyn Thai food) was serving food twice as good as they do today (in half the space). For a Southsider, Amarin was one of the few restaurants anywhere that would deliver south of Grand Street. I have no idea why Williamsburg and Greenpoint became the Thai food capital of the world, but its not a recent phenomenon.
All of this was years before what for many was the watershed moment for Williamsburg – getting called out by Utne Reader as the third hippest neighborhood in America (that was in December, 1997). From there, it was a quick ride downhill to gentrification.
So enjoy gentrification bingo, but just remember that the Thai restaurants were probably here before you were.