Dinner with DJ Craig Conrad at the Vietnam Restaurant


He’s the DJ in Scottsdale, Arizona who draws a crowd of 500 to Dave and Busters—on a Wednesday night.  Headphones are a permanent accessory in his wardrobe and the question at the forefront of his brain is “What music are you listening to?”  He’s our good friend from our undergrad days at SUNY Albany, Craig Lawson aka DJ Craig Conrad.

Since we are home from 14 months of travel we want to see our good friends no matter how far they live from New York City.    DJ Craig currently lives and spins in Phoenix but we were lucky that he was making a visit to see friends and family in his native town of Millbrook on the east coast US.  Then he made our year by coming to visit us for a night.

With old friends time is a funny thing.  It had been two years since we’d all seen each other.  As always food was the first thing to organize so we headed to one of the best restaurants in Rockland County, the three of us looked at each other and laughed.  Once we were your basic 30-something-ers, holding down regular jobs.  Now as we picked up our chopsticks to dip fresh spring rolls into peanut sauce, we were three artists enjoying a renaissance of creativity.


asian food

Pho at the Vietnam Restaurant in Spring Valley, New York

To Pho or Not to Pho

I perused the menu as I always do, considering each option and entrée.  Weighing out my hunger and glancing over at what Neil and Craig were thumbing through.  As is my routine, I carefully scour each page only to order what I always do: shrimp tempura with French butter and a side of sticky rice.

Since it was Craig’s first time at the Vietnam Restaurant in Spring Valley, Neil and I also tacked on the green papaya salad medium spice with shrimp and the fresh spring rolls.  Neil got one of his standard orders of bun rice stick with grilled honey braised chicken and Craig chose a bowl with rice noodles and BBQ chicken.  With new liquor laws jacking up the price of licenses, the eatery has a good BYOB policy and we uncorked a bottle of our own California wine.


The haight bars

We met up with DJ Craig Conrad and our travel bud Tim in the Haight, San Francisco.

Career Breaks and Changes

Once upon a time, Craig was a desk jockey, working 9-5 with a starched shirt and ironed slacks.  Once upon a time Neil and I were teachers.  But it’s funny to think how in two years, all three of us have explored new possibilities and pursued passions that may pay off as careers.  While our friend tackles the music industry, we’re moving into social media, blogging, and are making travel and music videos.  It feels good to catch up with an old friend in a new restaurant and talk about the shared passions that you’re finally free to pursue.

DJ Craig Conrad comes from the bloodline of entertainers.  His grandparents met at Radio City where his grandpa Cliff Conrad was an MC at RadioCity and friend to the Rat Pack.  Grandma was one of the youngest Rockettes at age 17!   Now, he’s living a dream, growing his business and bringing music to the masses!  It will definitely not be two years until we see Craig again.

Check out DJ Craig Conrad online:


About Melissa Ruttanai

Melissa is a social media coordinator, pro-blogger, and certified teacher. Her travel obsessions have brought her to 33 countries and 25 US States. Her work has been published by at DINK Life, International Living Magazine, Escape From America Magazine, Trazzler and On Holiday Magazine. Connect with Melissa on Google+ Twitter: @WorldWinder and Facebook.com/WorldWinder