THE Thai Kingdom – the first Thai restaurant to open in Stratford – has closed after 26 years.
Richard Tuckey opened the restaurant in an old hotel building on Warwick Road back in 1992 after being introduced to Thai food by friends.
He employed Thai staff, including one couple for 18 years, and used ingredients flown in from the country.
But the 57-year-old blamed increasing regulations, a competition for trade and a change in people’s social habits for the decision to close.
Back in 2000 the restaurant hit the national headlines when the then Crown Prince of Thailand, Maha Vajiralongkorn, ordered 350 dishes to be delivered to him at home 5,500 miles away in Bangkok.
The now King of Thailand was said to have been impressed with the food during a previous visit there while he was in the UK.
Mr Tuckey said: “We were very successful, but things have been slowly declining since 9/11.
“People have changed, regulations have changed, and cottage industries and family businesses can’t compete against the chains anymore.
“There’s more pressure in terms of legislation from the fire service and health and safety that this building just can’t conform too. It’s also very hard to get work permits for staff.
“I was 30 when I set up and it’s only the six years that have been stressful, and now I’ve just decided that I can’t do it anymore.
“The Crown Prince thing was a happy memory, but I’d like to thank all of my customers over the years and my staff, without them I wouldn’t have been here in the first place.
“I am sad to close, but the economics don’t add up any more and you can’t run a business in a competitive industry as a hobby.”
The restaurant was located in the former Wayside Hotel, and Mr Tuckey said his early intention is to convert it into residential.
The owners of the neighbouring Applegarth B&B have permission to turn the B&B into three homes.