Thai Leisure Group
From the heart
Recognising an opportunity to develop a new dining experience, Thai Leisure Group is rapidly establishing itself with leading new brands in the restaurant sector
With Thai cuisine arguably an under-represented offering within the busy UK restaurant sector, the Thai Leisure Group was incorporated with an ambition to capture this potentially lucrative market by providing diners with a tempting combination of authentic Thai cuisine and genuine hospitality. Formed during 2005 by its founders and joint chair board members, Martin Stead and Kim Kwaikraihott, the company today represents the UK’s leading Thai restaurant operation with 21 locations across the country. Since its inception, an important part of the success of the business has been its mission to be ‘Ow Jai Sai’ (from the heart) in delivering a ‘Ha Dao’ (five star) customer experience. Indeed, Thai Leisure Group is fully committed to providing its clientele with an excellent dining experience by embracing the spirit and soul of Thailand, with passion and a love of its business that is expressed through ‘Samakee’ (great team working) and ‘Sanook’ (fun).
During more than a decade in operation, Thai Leisure Group has grown to include four distinctive brands across 21 locations throughout the UK, with a target to reach as many as 40 restaurants by the end of 2018. In fact 2016 has proven to be a highly successful time for the company, with the business opening several new restaurants and securing funding for further new locations to be opened by the end of the year. With its roots set in a site formerly occupied by Aberdeen’s renowned heritage pub The Monkey House, Thai Leisure Group launched its new Chaophraya Aberdeen restaurant during July 2016. The new site can accommodate as many as 160 diners and created 40 new full and part-time jobs in the city, with the majority of staff being hired from the local area. The fine dining restaurant pays homage to its roots with opulent interior reminiscent of modern Thai design, whilst complementing the historical interior of the Union Terrace building, originally built in 1855.
“The demand for upmarket dining in Aberdeen is booming and we couldn’t be more excited to bring the first Chaophraya site in two years to this beautiful city. Following the unprecedented success of our Thaikhun restaurant, we’re looking forward to offering Chaophraya’s aspirational dining experience to people we know love Thai food at its best,” commented Thai Leisure Group Managing Director, Ian Leigh. “For me, Chaophraya provides the perfect backdrop for occasions and celebrations, whilst still being completely accessible to everyone.”
Further to the launch of its second site in Aberdeen, Thai Leisure Group has been able to open three new branches in Southampton, Newcastle and Bath after securing £10 million in additional funding from the Santander Group during February 2016. The new sites represent an important step in the company’s strategy to create greater coverage of the Thai Leisure Group brand across the UK. Santander had previously provided the company with growth capital in 2012, which was used to support Thai Leisure Group in its expansion into Scotland with openings in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen. Over subsequent years the business has reached a turnover of in excess of £36 million, while creating around 900 job across the company.
The Thai Leisure Group culinary experience is comprised of its four unique and distinctive concepts, which are derived from its Thanikhun Street Food and Chaophraya Thai Dining roll out brands in addition to its Yee Rah Bar & Grill and ChaoBaby Thai Restaurant supporting brands. Each of these brands is designed to bring a unique Thai dining experience to the UK marketplace and as the business has evolved, so too have its brands. During September 2016 for example, it was announced that the iconic Chaophraya restaurant group had introduced a revolutionary new menu, designed to transform and further elevate the dining experience of its clients. Fusing culinary imagination with fine cuisine, Chaophraya’s new menu delivers a sophisticated edge to Thai dining, by offering a mix of eclectic and contemporary dishes inspired by tastes from across the Thai regions. As part of the transformations, Chaophraya will also encourage guests to embrace the traditional way of dining as per Thai culture, by eating ‘family style,’ where multiple dishes are shared by everyone at the table.
This new dining experience challenges the misconceptions associated with eating Thai food with chopsticks, as in the majority of cases only noodle dishes are eaten this way, with a spoon and fork presented at the table. With the ongoing evolution of its menu and the rapid expansion of its presence across the country, Thai Leisure Group is set to continue to take the UK by storm with its unique dining experiences. “The launch of our new menu is a really exciting development for Chaophraya. Over the past six months our senior culinary brigade have travelled to Thailand to research the latest developments in Thai cuisine and we have blended this with the knowledge of our expert chefs in our restaurants,” concludes Development Chef of Chaophraya, Nattawut Leela. “With a dash of imagination we believe we have created a menu that takes Thai dining to a new level here in the UK.”