Founded in Leeds in 2004, Chaophraya Thai Restaurant & Palm Sugar Bar is committed to bringing authentic Thai cuisine to eager customers across the UK. The chain has since opened restaurants in Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield and Liverpool, with their latest offering in Glasgow set to cement Chaophraya’s reputation for serving delicious Thai-style food in stunning surroundings.
Named after the Chaophraya River, Thailand’s main waterway, the chain serves to infuse traditional Thai food and drink with a bustling atmosphere that is reminiscent of the streets of modern Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Their tantalising menu boasts a range of delicious treats, including pineapple fried rice and sea bass with lime and chilli.
Each of the restaurants possesses its own unique character and reflects both the building and the city in which it resides, and the new Glasgow restaurant is certainly no exception. Housed within a Grade A listed building that dates back to the early 20th century, the restaurant stands approximately halfway along the busy thoroughfare of Buchannan Street in Glasgow town centre. Originally constructed as The Liberal Club of Glasgow in 1909, the building has also served as the College of Dramatic Art and the Royal Academy of Music.
Chaophraya restaurateurs Martin Stead and Kim Atcharaporn Keawkraikhot recognised the potential of the site and engaged their long-term interior design consultants JMDA Ltd to work alongside main contractor G F Holding and architect Horsley Townsend to transform the site into the largest Thai restaurant in the country.
The 14-week project was completed in July 2012 at a cost of £2.1 million. Working in an existing building posed several challenges, as Managing Director of JMDA Ltd, Jonathon Morgan, explained:
“As we were working with such a sensitive building, it was essential that the project team were involved from the start to ensure that the listed features were not disturbed. Due to the age of the building, there was a distinct lack of services such as gas, and the building therefore simply didn’t meet the client’s basic requirements for a comfortable environment, not to mention the essentials of state-of-the-art IT. By working closely with the Glasgow planning authorities, we were able to rise to the challenge and the end result provides ‘all mod cons’ in a discrete and sympathetic manner which everyone is proud of.”
Upon entering the restaurant, customers are greeted by a grand marble floored entrance hall that has been enhanced using authentic Thai furniture and a juxtaposing contemporary chandelier. A chic bar to the right of the imposing lobby celebrates an illuminated onyx backfitting and a Carrera marble topped server, with access from Buchannan Street provided via a floor-to-ceiling glazed architectural feature ‘lozenge’ with specially imported Thai Buddhas. To the left of the lobby, there is a relaxing lounge and bar area with huge antique mirrors and fuschia-inspired light fittings.
The ornate staircase features custom designed carpets, bejewelled elephants and Buddhas and bespoke pendant lights, and leads to the double-height, 140-cover restaurant. In order to retain the rich atmosphere, JMDA Ltd have cleverly incorporated a raised area that houses leather booth seating flanked on either side by 3.5m-high glass, chrome and timber wine walls. Brass chandeliers with LED lighting illuminate the restaurant, whilst further details include the application of gold leaf decoration to the ‘wedding cake’ plasterwork of the ceiling.
An intimate arched hallway with original panelling leads guests into the main VIP areas, which comprise three separate screened-off rooms with the themes of ‘Authentic Thai’, ‘Cuisine’ and ‘Funky’. Each of the rooms boasts its own unique features – including 8ft-high carved Thai ‘thrones’, sunken seating, a padded TV wall and chrome display cases housing authentic Thai ingredients – whilst all of the rooms sit below an ornate coffered ceiling with gold paper detailing.
In contrast to the sumptuous decoration of the VIP rooms, a dark and moody Champagne bar area situated to one end features a backlit onyx bar, pendant lights, illuminated champagne tables and chrome and mirrored backfitting displays.
A further VIP room can be found off the arched hallway. This breathtaking room features moulded panelling, a feature fireplace and large casement windows, and it is painted in a heritage dark blue/grey with pure white feature timber work. A central curved ‘figure of 8’ enclosure may be used for a single party of 24 or be divided by brass inlaid sliding/folding screens to create two rooms of 12. Floating lanterns, richly stained timber divisions, brass inlays and candle stands feature heavily throughout the VIP room, whilst bespoke contemporary chandeliers emanate sparkle and ambience below the gold papered ceiling.
Jonathon Morgan, JMDA Ltd, commented:
“We only ever specify high-end materials for Chaophraya and have incorporated marble and granite elements for the bars and toilets, along with chrome and glass for the wine cases and feature walls. In addition, we have incorporated rich warm timbers to reflect those used in Thailand as it was important to us to create the authentic Thai feel.
“All of the carpets have been specially designed by Brinton Carpets in close collaboration with ourselves, whilst the bespoke light fittings were supplied by Chesterfield company Northern Lights and the furniture was created by Dawnvale of Oldham. We also imported some of the furniture from Thailand, which, along with the high class leathers and LED lighting has helped to create a truly stunning ambience.
“JMDA Ltd has a dedicated team who are all very excited to have worked on this development, which is our 8th project for Chaophraya. It is an extremely interesting building architecturally and historically, and it is fantastic to see what we have managed to achieve in only a year from brief to handover, which is something of a miracle for a listed building of this size and complexity. The restaurant is breathtaking, and I think I can safely say that Chaophraya Glasgow is one of the most exciting restaurant/VIP/bars in the UK at the moment.”
Oldham-based painting and decorating specialists Temple Somerville P&D Ltd completed both internal and external preparation and decoration works on Chaophraya Glasgow, which included the use of specialist wall coverings.
Temple Somerville P&D Ltd Managing Director, Michael Keighery said:
“The building is quite old and was an interesting structure to work on – in particular the main stairwell is very impressive. It used to be an open market hall and has some original cornices. It’s a lovely building.
“We do a lot of out of hours work to accommodate clients who need a flexible service. We always prided ourselves on our reliability and excellent quality of work.”
YCE Catering Equipment Ltd
YCE Catering Equipment Ltd has been designing and supplying commercial catering equipment for kitchens and bars since 1980. During this time, the company has worked on a number of impressive developments ranging from York Race Course, Four Seasons Health Care, Gatwick Airport, Sheffield Hallam University and The Salvation Army, amongst other prestigious clients.
The Chaophraya restaurant in Glasgow was a particularly significant project for YCE Catering Equipment as it is the largest Thai restaurant in Europe. During the development they designed, project managed and installed the kitchen and bar area of the restaurant.
The project marked the second occasion that YCE Catering Equipment Ltd had worked on a Chaophraya site, following the company’s involvement with the Liverpool site.
YCE Equipment Ltd Project Manager, Wendy Highfield, said:
“We are especially pleased to have been involved with this latest Chaophraya restaurant. It was a high-profile project and a well thought out development.
“We are particularly proud of the high standard of work that we have achieved. We work in a confined area so we maximise the space available to produce the best possible solutions.”
JFA Contracts Ltd
JFA Contracts Ltd provides artwork and decorative items for use in the leisure industry. The company offers its services for the refurbishment of hotels, restaurants and pubs and has been in operation since 1998.
JFA Contracts Ltd has provided decorations for countless prominent clients such as Thistle Hotels, Hallmark Hotels and Indigo Hotels. Most recently, JFA Contracts Ltd has been involved with Chaophraya Glasgow, where their role involved providing bespoke decorations for the restaurant. These items included contributing striking Thai artefacts as well providing art work, mirrors, vases and a custom made metal floral display.
JFA Contracts Ltd has previously worked on Chaophraya Liverpool.
JFC Contracts Ltd Associate Director, Tracey Reeley, said:
“Chaophraya Glasgow has been very important to the company and has been great to work on.
“We take pride in the excellent service we provide our clients. Our directors are involved with every project from start to finish and our hands-on approach has garnered a reputation for great personal service.”
Brintons Carpets Limited
Founded in 1783 and recently acquired by The Carlyle Group, one of the worlds’ largest global alternative asset managers – Brintons Carpets Limited specialises in the manufacture and supply of high quality bespoke and stock carpets. The company produces carpets to all sectors of the commercial market including hospitality, marine, casino gaming & leisure, airports and corporate. Brintons Carpets Limited also works with some of the world’s best architectural and design practices.
Brintons Carpets Limited is the preferred supplier to many major international hotel groups and has worked extensively round the world with Marriott, Hilton, IHG and Hyatt to name a few. The company has also supplied products to a number of major airports including Delhi – which at the time was one of the largest carpet orders ever awarded to a single supplier – and has worked on many high profile cruise ships such as Queen Mary 2, QE2 and Balmoral.
Jane Bradley-Bain, Brintons Carpets Limited, said:
“I have worked with JMDA on a number of interesting projects each with a unique ambitious and inspiring design concept which makes our job challenging, but also extremely fulfilling when we see the concept become a reality. It is always inspiring to work with creative architects such as JMDA on projects like Chaophraya.”
Jane Bradley-Bain added:
“We manufacture a high quality product and have built a strong reputation for quality that our clients trust. We invest heavily in design and technological innovation and we have real global reach having state of the art manufacturing plants in Portugal, the UK and India.
“We are a design led company and strive very hard to listen to our clients needs; then we work to deliver them. We want to make the world a more beautiful place in what we do and working with creative people like JMDA on projects like Chaophraya goes some way to doing just that.”