Local Powerhouse Trio Says, “Thank You!” to Beach 116th with New Cafe

Between The Bridges
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While milling around Beach 116th Street, next to Rogoff’s, you may have noticed the nondescript storefront sign, “Thank You Cafe.” Well, let your curiosity lead you in because once you open the door, your visual and olfactory organs will immediately be fixated on the eclectic display of food and scents wafting from the kitchen. From the variety of traditional breakfast, ciabatta and Japanese sandwiches, frittatas, Vietnamese style chimichurri brisket, kale salad, smoked king salmon, sardines with piquillo peppers, and charred grapefruit served with coconut yogurt—ooh la la!—and more, you definitely will be wooed and exclaim, “Thank you!”

Who are the curators of this much-welcomed addition to the commercial block? None other than Maribel Araujo of Caracas Beach 106th Boardwalk Concession, Andrew Field of Tacoway and Chef Donata Orsi, locally known for her Beaches food stand at the Beach 97th Street Concession.

For Araujo, to open an all-year foodie establishment was always a goal, and to do this on Beach 116th Street, a Rockaway commercial street landmark, is a blessing. “We relished the opportunity, and our landlord is an amazing human being. He really wanted to do something special on Beach 116th Street to make it a better destination for the whole community to come down and enjoy a cup of coffee or a plate of food. (Note that drinks are served up by head barista, Jadel Biteng, a Rockaway local). Plus, we are happy to be in a landmark area that has been a commercial corridor since the 1930s,” Araujo said.

Araujo, is quite humble, considering that she opened the wildly popular Caracas Arepa Bar in Rockaway in 2011 and stayed the course, even after Hurricane Sandy. Plus, she also was named a “Million Dollar Woman” in a CBS special series about women on the move. Her partner, Andrew Field, is just as shy, but he also has had much to crow about as he is the mastermind behind Tacoway, which was first located on Beach 96th Street, re-located to the Rockaway Beach Surf Club, and even opened another location at the Rockaway Brewing Company. He’s got quite a following, but if you mention it, he will probably just bow his head in thanks.

Araujo was firm in making sure that Chef Orsi received all the applause for the food customers have already been raving about. “A lot of people feel that I am the one behind the kitchen, but it’s really our fantastic chef, Donata Orsi, who’s originally from Italy, and has worked in well-renowned restaurants across NYC. She’s been living in Rockaway for the last three years, and fell in love with the community, and she’s so excited to be a part of Thank You Cafe, offering her love for food to a place she calls, home,” Araujo said.

Orsi has quite the quite culinary resume. Born and raised in Tuscany, Italy, she has worked for a bevy of impressive food establishments, including Ottolenghi in London, the Grammery Tavern and Two Hands Cafe, and even owned her own catering business in NYC. Her hands have been immersed in cuisines from Mediterranean, Asian/Japanese fusion, and American standard fare. However, though she has been a chef in NYC’s most prestigious restaurants, Orsi shared that her love is cooking for a fun, friendly counter-style atmosphere. “I’ve specialized in this type of food for years, and I love it because I really get to connect with the customers. And at Thank You Cafe, from the very first day, I’m so happy to hear our customers’ reviews. They love it. I live in Rockaway, and see there are so many food options, but it’s such a pleasure to bring something new for the community to enjoy. The menu is a smorgasbord of so many cultural flavors. I’m just excited to present something different in an unpretentious way. I love when families come and enjoy our little cafe. This is just our soft opening, and we will have lots more to come!” Orsi said.

Thank You Cafe just had its soft opening this past week. As of now, Thank You is  open for breakfast and lunch, Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. They offer food options for every palate, whether you are looking for gluten-free, vegan or just standard fare. According to Araujo, in the next few weeks, the cafe will be extending their opening hours to include dinner.

“We will be an all-day cafe, offering deliveries and we are already set up for both dine-in and take out. As for now, we are literally a bare bones set up, super excited to be part of Beach 116th Street. The entire team is happy to have an all-year operation in Rockaway, but we are taking it one step at a time,” Araujo said.

Thank You Cafe has a warm and welcoming dine-in area, and possesses a vibe that spells, not just, “Thank You!” but “Welcome home.” The cafe currently seats approximately 20 people, and is in the midst of expanding the back area for more seating. So, go on in and say, “Thank You!” to a much-needed addition, located at 214 Beach 116th Street.

For more info, and weekly updates on the menu, check out their Instagram page: @thankyou_nyc.

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