Most bars fall into commonly recognized categories, communicated through their decor, drink menu, and employee dress code. Even with variations on a theme, you know whether you’ve walked into a gastropub, a wine bar, an Irish pub, or a dive. Then, once in a while, you walk into a bar that seems to have sprung directly from the psyche of its owners—the kind of place that’s inseparable from the people behind the counter and they lives they’ve lived.
Pata Paplean—Elmhurst’s premier destination for cold Singhas, Thai power ballads, and an enormous stuffed gorilla with sunglasses—is precisely this kind of bar. Satika and Naratip, the sister and brother who own the business, moved to New York when they were young enough to adapt seamlessly into their new Queens home, but old enough to remember all of the great nights out on the town they used to have with their friends in Bangkok. They set out to build a gathering place that would reflect those memories and create new ones for Queens’ Thai community.
These days, Satika is not as much of the party animal she used to be, but she’s still a regular at her own bar, which is becoming more and more of the family gathering destination that she envisioned. In the evening, it’s the best place to grab a drink for locals who want to chill rather than rage. Late at night, it’s a regular stop for Thai cooks and wait service coming off of their restaurant shifts. And on weekend afternoons, she opens the bar early to serve real deal boat noodles—another of her favorite memories from Thailand that she’s proud to incorporate alongside all of the keepsakes that make Pata Paplean a part of her home in Queens.
Music by Dorian Love (dorianlove.com).
© Photographs by Jackie Ho.
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