A RESTAURATEUR is defying “tougher and tougher” times by opening a new venue in the centre of Wimborne.

Thai food restaurant Nusara – which already has sites in Poole and Christchurch – is due to open in Crown Court, off the Square, on Wednesday, August 3.

It is the latest venture for Andy Lennox, whose business Fired Up Hospitality also has the Zim Braai restaurants in Poole's Ashley Cross and central Bournemouth, as well as the Old Thatch pub in Wimborne.

Mr Lennox said of the Wimborne venue: “It’s been a decade in the making.

“It’s basically Thai food taken to the next level. We’ve gone back to proper Thai cooking and we’re leading with a lot more traditional authentic Thai, rather than an anglicised version, so it’s not so fiery in the face and spicy, it’s much more subtle.”

He said the business had “built three restaurants in just under 18 months”, despite the challenges facing the industry, including inflation, supply shortages and recruitment headaches.

He has the key team in place and is recruiting three to four more people.

“We’ve been trying to get to Wimborne for a decade, so when the right site came up, we had to take it,” he said.

“We’re going to sit back and just kind of look at everything and how we do.

“It’s getting tougher and tougher. Since Covid it’s been one thing after another.

“We’re all in that mindset of ‘We’ve just got to ride it out’. It’s going to get a lot tougher before it gets better. We’ve got a good strong management team in place.”

Mr Lennox was among the founders of Koh Thai, the independent chain which sprang up in the recession of 2009, and which he sold in 2018.

“We did our best work in the recession. It’s where we picked up our best deals, our best sites, it’s where we did our best work. It feels like that, if not worse, at the moment,” he said.

“I think we’re in a recession. I just don’t think we know it yet. But for us, it’s essential. As long as we serve great food in a good atmosphere and value for money, then people will come back. People need the escapism.”