A Thai restaurant offering “authentic Asian street food” opens its doors at the back of a gym.
Gong, based at Lordswood Bowling Centre, Chatham, will be welcoming diners at the end of this month, along with a takeaway service.
Behind the new culinary adventure hides Tommy Garrett who has been working at the Newton Close club bar for two years.
His friend and boss Tim Watters offered him the use of the reception hall and, being a fan of oriental cuisine, Tommy decided to take on the “challenge”.
The 21-year-old enjoys cooking at his family home in Lordswood and had been training as a chef at a restaurant near Alicante in Spain when he had to return home as he lacked the necessary papers.
The former Waterfront UTC student said: “I’m very excited. It’s something new and fresh for me and I think it’s something Lordswood needs.
“There are Indian and Chinese restaurants around here but the closest Thai ones are in Rochester and Maidstone.
“I put the idea on social media to see if people were interested and within a day I had 100 responses.”
Tommy, who will be mostly indoors, believes there is a demand for Thai cuisine in the area.
He said, “There are new houses and building works are going on all over here.
When Tommy isn’t working, he enjoys cooking.
He said: “I like to cook Mediterranean food and Thai food, but I wouldn’t say I’m an expert. I take classes.
“I’ve never been to Thailand, but it’s on my list, after all I run a Thai restaurant!”
He employs a Thai chef to add her expertise as well as four to five people to work in the newly equipped kitchen.
An extensive and comprehensive menu including starters, vegetarian options, separate noodle and rice dishes is available. There is also a separate bar.
Gong will be open seven days a week. Hours of operation are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Sunday from 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. It can accommodate about 80 guests.
The name comes from the Thai tradition of gongs and they are popular souvenirs bought by visitors to the country.