Diners Make Reservations to Eat in Floodwaters at Thai Restaurant

Diners wanting to experience "hot-pot surfing" at a flood-hit riverside restaurant in Thailand now have to make reservations due to the restaurant's explosion in popularity, the Associated Press reported.

Like many other restaurants, the Chaopraya Antique Café near Bangkok was hit hard by the COVID-19 lockdowns. Shortly after it was able to reopen, a severe tropical storm and heavy monsoon rain caused the nearby river to rise. With daily tides coming in, the deck of the café is regularly flooded.

Instead of being forced to shut down again, the café was boosted by publicity in the Thai media and became a popular site for those seeking a unique dining experience.

The restaurant has become so popular, customers need to make reservations to experience what the owner calls "hot-pot surfing."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Thai Restaurant
A restaurant in Thailand hit by floodwaters has become such a popular dining spot that customers need to make reservations. Above, people eat at the Chaopraya Antique Café as floodwater from the Chao Phraya River surges into the restaurant, in Nonthaburi province north of Bangkok, on October 7, 2021. Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP via Getty Images

Shortly after the water tops the parapet, the first diners arrive. Before long, the deck is crammed with carefree customers happily tucking in as if dining in a deluge is the norm.

The wait staff—some clad in rubber boots—step gingerly through the swirl that quickly rises to more than 50 centimeters (20 inches).

The restaurant, in Nonthaburi near Bangkok, 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 became 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.

When a passenger boat motors past, you find out why. The delighted scramble to avoid a soaking from the wave is the moment everyone waits for, and with one passing every 15 minutes, no one goes home disappointed.

It's TV presenter Titiporn Jutimanon's first restaurant venture. He says 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 says, 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.

Chaopraya Antique Cafe
The flood-hit restaurant has become an unlikely dining hotspot after fun-loving foodies began flocking to its water-logged deck to eat amid the lapping tide. Above, customers of the riverside Chaopraya Antique Café enjoy themselves despite the extraordinary high water levels in the Chao Phraya River in Nonthaburi, near Bangkok, Thailand, on October 7, 2021. Sakchai Lalit/AP Photo