Thai restaurant brings a new lease of life for Beetley pub
A traditional village pub near Dereham has been given an exotic new lease of life with the addition of a Thai restaurant.
The New Inn at Beetley was given a �45,000 renovation before re-opening last night as the Nueng Siam restaurant and pub.
The building was bought last September by Rory and Gemma Sexton, who were keen to save it from potential redevelopment – a fate suffered by many other watering holes across Norfolk.
Mr Sexton said the village was excited about the re-launch under the management of the new tenants, chef Ammarin Thapthongdi, 41, and 44-year-old manager Winitra Krud-In, known to her friends and customers as Dar.
A former games room has been converted into a modern restaurant, allowing 42 diners to eat from a menu of freshly-cooked food, using a mixture of locally-sourced produce and ingredients flown over from Thailand.
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But the old bar area has also been retained, maintaining the inn's traditional role as a social hub for drinkers to meet and chat, even if they are not using the restaurant.
Mr Sexton said: 'Dar and Ammarin have had a tremendous response from the locals and everyone I have spoken to has said they cannot wait to see it open. People are quite excited to have a Thai restaurant and takeaway, but it is equally important there is a bar here for local people as well. It will make it much more viable for the long term.
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'Essentially, if we had not bought the pub, it may have fallen into the hands of a property developer. It is within the planning envelope, and a planning consultant told me you could put two houses on there. But my wife and I certainly didn't want the village to lose its pub.'
Dar and Ammarin moved to Norfolk from Thailand about 10 years ago and worked for about six years at the Crawfish in Thursford, near Fakenham.
Dar said: 'Thai food is quite popular now... but if they just want to come for a drink, we have proper beer and spirits in the bar.
'We know about Thai food and we want to do something different for the village. We use local ingredients, but some things are brought from Thailand, like sweet basil and chili.
'I am excited and nervous, but when we get past the first night we will be OK. We have already had a lot of people outside who asked to come in and have a look around. They were very happy and booked to come and eat here.'
Nueng Siam was fully booked for its opening night, and will employ five people in total.
The restaurant opened a day later than planned – a happy coincidence for Dar and Ammarin, as they were able to open on the Thai Queen Sirikit's birthday, known in their homeland as Mother's Day.