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Krapow Thai Restaurant

Phil Williams’ business is about as far removed from Army life as you can imagine, yet he has discovered that so many of the skills he learned in Service are playing a vital role in the running of his new venture, the Krapow Thai Restaurant in Warrington which opened its doors to the public on 3rd May 2024.

Phil enjoyed a 17-year career in the British Army as part of the Royal Dragoon Guards – before leaving to become a HGV driver with Eddie Stobart and other haulage firms. He met his Thai partner Chanisara seven years ago and that sparked their dream to open a restaurant together. However, the income from Phil’s driving job was crucial, so they decided to start small.

Chanisara started serving her cuisine with a Thai food stall in the town’s central market and discovered that demand was high for her freshly made products. Phil supported the stall when he wasn’t driving and together they began searching for a location. Proud of Phil’s military background, the stall offered a discount to serving and veteran members of the Armed Forces.

Hungry patrons, delighting in the Thai delicacies, urged the couple to expand. However, they didn’t rush into making the step up to a fully-fledged restaurant and spent five years looking for the perfect location, which they found in The Hive in Warrington’s busy town centre. The Start Up Loan of £24,000 they secured via X-Forces Enterprise (XFE) – a Business Support Partner to the British Business Bank was key to making their dream a reality.

Phil says: “I heard about Start Up Loans from the business owner next door. Getting the finance has helped us to buy the kitchen equipment, pay tradespeople and buy fixtures and fittings for the opening.”

Authentic decorations sent by Chanisara’s family in Thailand adorn the walls. Brand new equipment fills the kitchen. New crockery and glassware sit atop the tables. Phil’s regimental flag is proudly displayed. The transformation of the space was a major undertaking, with Phil coordinating the fit-out himself, hiring tradespeople for the specialist tasks. He has found that his time in the Army is a huge benefit for the job at hand:

“The military skills I lean on are perseverance, patience, listening and getting advice – if I don’t know something, I speak to someone that does. And teamwork has been vital in managing the restaurant refit.”

The restaurant is looking to do 40 covers at a time with Phil swapping project management duties for procurement, storage, administration, banking…and a little bartending! He’s clearly very comfortable in his new role, commenting “the best thing about being a business owner is not having a boss, except the girlfriend!”

Food tasting Krapow Thai RestaurantWhile Phil and Chanisara have no short-term plans for expansion into other locations, they certainly aren’t lacking in ambition. They foresee £500,000 of revenue in the first year, growing by 25% in both year two and year three of Krapow Thai Restaurant.

 

If you have served in the Armed Forces or emergency services, go to the X-Forces website to find out more about how a Start Up Loan could help turn your business dream into a reality.

Published on 28 May 2024

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