A FORMER restaurant in the Koh Thai group is to open as a new eatery, creating around 15 jobs.

Andy Lennox, who co-founded Koh Thai in 2009 and sold it in 2018, has bought the site in Christchurch from the chain’s liquidators and will open a new business, Nusara.

After leaving Koh Thai, Mr Lennox went on to set up Zim Braai in Ashley Cross, Poole, and opened a second venue in Bournemouth just after the coronavirus lockdown was eased.

He said: “Nusara is a labour of love, born to create something truly special, a safe home, and a Mecca for Thai lovers everywhere.

“Nusara is about family, about exploring Thai food to its next level and delivery a truly exceptional dining experience.”

He said the Castle Street restaurant would “combine the aged old tradition of fire grilling alongside time-honoured recipes with a balanced Thai menu of meat, fish and plant”.

It would deliver “an innovative healthy, fresh menu for Thai lovers everywhere to explore”, he added.

Mr Lennox told the Daily Echo he had hoped to take over other Koh Thai sites but was not able to acquire them from the liquidators.

Koh Thai restaurants in Bournemouth town centre, Lilliput and Southsea have reopened. They were bought from liquidators by the group’s management after the Covid crisis drove the business into administration.

Mr Lennox said some of the 15 or so jobs being created in Christchurch would be filled by former Koh Thai staff.

“We tried to save about 200 but that wasn’t possible,” he said.

He and his co-founders set up the original Koh Thai during the previous recession, when borrowing was hard to come by.

“Back in 2009, we set our sights on being the best at what we did. I’m setting my sights on being the best now,” he said.

He said “absolutely amazing food” should make Nusara a destination for visitors.

“We’d like people across the south to come down and experience us,” he said.

The business will reunite an award-winning team in chef Thammanoon Thurasan, Nusara Padungwong and Zim Braai operations director Sophie Cox, who will take the post of group operations director.