The Koh Story
Koh Thai Tapas was born in 2009 out of our frustration with the status quo. We wanted to create a place where we would like to eat. A place where Thai cuisine could be shared and sampled with fiery cocktails, far-flung beers and world-class music. A place at once authentic, beautiful, unpretentious, relaxed and refined. Was that too much to ask? In its first year of trading, Koh Boscombe won Bournemouth’s 2010 Restaurant of the Year. This gave us all the encouragement we needed to take our concept forwards. Follow us on our journey as we evolve, making new friends and sharing our love of Thai cuisine further and further afield.
Although every venue is unique, born out of the marriage between historic locations and fresh fusion design, we continue to deliver on exquisite food, drink and that eclectic atmosphere. We keep striving to hit the mark of the CDE - the Complete Dining Experience. What is CDE? CDE is the backbone of our brand. CDE is our attention to every detail; every customer, every welcome, every goodnight. It is the placement to the candle, the polish to the wood, the garnish to the cocktail. It is the artist in the chef, the joker in the barman, the friend in the manager. It is how nothing is forgotten and how everyone is remembered. CDE is why you come back.
JOURNEY WITH US
The Koh Story
Koh Thai Boscombe opened
Koh’s first ever Thai Tapas restaurant opened its doors in Boscombe, Bournemouth in 2009 at the end of a recession. Creating somewhere people could experience the Complete Dining Experience: Somewhere to taste the exotic flavours of Thai cuisine over a sociable Western tapas style of dining. Our setting was relaxed and refined – an escape from the bustle of the world outside, our island retreat – with minute attention to detail both in the decor and service.
Little did we know our little island would grow to become an archipelago…
Restaurant of the Year
As word of the Koh concept spread like wildfire across Bournemouth, the critics began to listen in too. After less than a year’s trading, we very proudly picked up the award for Restaurant of the Year at the Bournemouth Tourism Awards for our original Koh sitting humbly in Boscombe.
Reader Recommended Restaurant in the 2011 Good Food Guide
Building on the word-of-mouth success of our little restaurant, soon afterwards Koh became The Reader Recommended Restaurant in the 2011 Good Food Guide. The restaurant was quickly booking up with a buzzing atmosphere each and every night!
Koh Lounge Boscombe beach
In the summer, we took the Koh Experience on the move for the first time, popping the first Koh Lounge on the beach as part of a small community event in Boscombe for 100 people. Koh was completely at home under the setting sun, surrounded by the high spirits of the crowd in the open air. The true vision for Koh Lounge was born with bigger things to come…
Koh Thai Bournemouth opened
As it became increasingly difficult to get a table in Koh Boscombe, the natural progression was to expand the concept. Two years on, we opened up our beautiful Flagship Restaurant, proudly standing at the top of The Triangle in Bournemouth.
Reader Recommended in the 2012 Good Food Guide
We did it again! Koh repeated history as the 2012 Reader Recommended Restaurant in the Good Food Guide.
Official launch of Koh Lounge on The Beach
Our vision for Koh Lounge was brought to life with a bang, beginning with Koh Lounge on the Beach at the Bournemouth Air Festival. The installation under a beautiful marquee included our pop-up kitchen, bar, an excitable team of Kohians and a killer DJ set to match the vibes of summer. It has been infamous amongst our loyal following of customers ever since, popping up at several other large events such as the Christchurch Food Festival.
Koh Thai Southsea opened
As word spread and people continued to travel far and wide for the Koh Experience, Koh Bournemouth too became fully booked within just a year of trading. With an existing base of loyal customers based in Portsmouth, we decided it was time to give them their own Koh, set in a beautiful old bank in Southsea. Koh Southsea remains one of the most charming sites, with the building still boasting its original character.
READER RECOMMENDED IN THE 2013 GOOD FOOD GUIDE; BEST EMPLOYER IN HOSPITALITY AT THE HOSPITALITY AWARDS 2013; KOH SOUTHSEA WINS HEART FM FOOD AWARD
The third time’s a charm as Koh is Reader Recommended again for 2013!
With three sites, we also grew as an independent employer, swooping both ‘Best Medium Sized Independent Employer’ Award and impressively rating as a Top 10 UK Employer in Hospitality, both at the Hospitality Awards, London.
Meanwhile, we also won the Heart FM Food Award for our newest addition to the Koh Family in Southsea.
Koh Thai Bath opened
Four years on from our original launch, we took the brave step of opening our first Koh away from the South Coast in the historic City of Bath, relocating our very small and super-efficient Operations Team up to Bath with it.
Good Food Awards; The Horizons' 'Ones To Watch' Award
Within its first year of trade, the new Thai Tapas concept was welcomed to Bath with open arms, collecting its ‘Best Tapas’ Good Food Award 2014.
Our expansion hadn’t gone unnoticed, earmarked as Horizons’ “Ones to Watch – Fastest Growing Restaurant Brands in the UK”.
Koh Thai Bristol opened
With a firm foot in Bath, the next natural progression became the launch of a new site in the bustling City of Bristol. We were now ready to compete with the big brands and independent eateries that lined the high streets. Koh Bristol was launched at The Clifton Triangle – a large restaurant with a spacious bar and lounge area, plenty of tables and a hidden gem of a garden behind, just perfect for lazy summer evenings.
Good Food Awards 2014; Dorset Business Awards 2014: Company & Growing Business of the Year Finalist and Entrepreneur of the Year Winner
Koh Bristol didn’t just compete with the local restaurant market, it outdid it, named ‘Best Asian’ at the 2014 Good Food Awards. As word of our successful continued expansion reached back home in Bournemouth, we were also named as a Company & Growing Business of the Year Finalist in the Dorset Business Awards 2014. At the same awards, we also won the Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
Koh Noi Lilliput opened
With our successful expansion in Somerset, our sights turned back home to the Dorset Coast, launching a new concept – Koh Noi, our tiny island playground. A smaller space with no bookings, more focus on the bar and everything on the menu tapas-sized, at Koh Noi, it is all about the atmosphere. Located just down the road from Sandbanks, Koh Noi Lilliput has been a buzz ever since, with regulars popping in for a meal and others at the bar enjoying our talented bartender’s ‘choice cocktails’ whilst awaiting the next available table.
Koh Head Office is established
With the explosive popularity of the Koh Noi concept and our ever growing portfolio, we formalised a Senior Team in Bournemouth and established a Head Office at the Lionworks.
Koh Noi Christchurch opened
After just five months of trading in Lilliput, we duplicated the concept with another small Koh Noi, launched in the bustling quayside market town of Christchurch. It became the perfect complement to the restaurant and bar trade in the area and it continues to be a regular hotspot for locals.
Visit Koh Noi Christchurch
Caterer Awards 2015: Best Employer in Hospitality
Now with seven sites and a strong embedded culture progressing our staff up the management ranks through our Koh Academy, we also took on a ‘FABULOUS’ HR Manager as part of our growing core team. After another great year, we were very proud to take home ‘The Best Employer in Hospitality 2015 Award for a Small Restaurant Group’.
Koh Thai Ringwood opened
Moving back to the original Koh Thai Tapas concept, Koh Ringwood was launched to a very excited crowd of locals and avid followers with one of our busiest launch nights yet! Many of these locals had already experienced our other local Kohs and were ready for their own. The beautiful new venue, featuring a bar area, snug, restaurant space and courtyard, was packed wall-to-wall, as it was for most of its first year of trading!
Koh Lounge on The Beach at the Bournemouth Air Show
Koh Lounge on the Beach returned for the 2015 Bournemouth Air Show, back by popular demand and for a prolonged three week stint. The experiential pop-up has gone down in history as one of the greatest pop-ups in Bournemouth and is still spoken about regularly today.
Eat Out Awards 2015: Restaurant Company of the Year Finalist; Dorset Business Awards 2015: Business Growth of the Year Finalist
We were Finalists for both the ‘Restaurant Company of the Year’ at the prestigious Eat Out Awards and the ‘Business Growth of the Year’ at Dorset Business Awards. A great end to another strong year!
Koh Thai Salisbury opened
Our first site in Wiltshire opened just steps away from Market Square in Salisbury. This picturesque site with its plants and Buddhas out front boasts two levels with two bars and a second floor available for private hire and events.
Koh Noi Winchester opened
Our third Koh Noi launched in the bustling City of Winchester, this time with the addition of a private dining space and a fantastic team to bring the site to life!
Koh Thai Romsey opened
Moving into another popular market town, Koh Romsey became our 11th opening. Occupying three beautiful rooms including one bright and spacious conservatory, a bar area and two magnificent and characterful dining spaces, you will often find regulars from the community popping in to say hello. We have an incredibly attentive team here where service is second to none. Don’t believe us? Just check out their equally incredible reviews on TripAdvisor amongst others. Koh Romsey is rated as one of the very best restaurants in the town.
Winner! Brand of The Year, Eat Out Awards; Training & Development Finalist and Emerging Talent Initiative Finalist, People's Caterer Awards; Training & Development Finalist, Bath Chronicle Awards
After our shortlisting in 2015 and the addition of a Marketing Manager in 2016, we were over the moon to win Brand of the Year on our visit to the London Eat Out Award Ceremony. In the same month, we were also nominated for both the Emerging Talent Initiative and the Training & Development awards at the People’s Caterer Awards – also a nod to our new Training & Development Manager. We were also a Bath Chronicle Awards Finalist for their Training & Development Award thanks to the progression of our staff through our Koh Academy Programme.
Company MBO & Equity Investment completed with Alcuin Capital Finance
After much negotiation, CEO and Founder Andy Lennox led a Management Buyout as 2016 drew to a close, taking a majority sharehold with investment from our new partners, Alcuin Capital Finance. This was a really exciting time for us all as a company as it gave us more stability and freedom to continue to grow the brand.
Koh Thai Tapas Lymington opened
With an incredible four openings in a single year, Koh Lymington became our final launch of 2016. The distinctive low ceilings and long, narrow layout leading to a beautiful garden give Koh Lymington its own personality and appeal.
It is completely at home in this port town and was long awaited by its residents, bursting at the seams on launch night. Koh Lymington continues to be a huge hit for the town and has become a staple for dining out within the community.
Too many awards to title... What a year!!
2017 started with a bang as we were listed as finalists for Multiple Casual Dining Restaurant of the Year and Marketing Campaign of the Year in the Casual Dining Awards 2017 in London.
A week later, we were proudly named WINNERS of the Specialist Dining Award and finalists for both the Family Eating Experience and World Cuisine awards on our home turf at the Bournemouth Tourism Awards.
We were also one of three finalists for the Eat Out Awards Marketing Campaign of the Year / Social Media Award and Brand of the Year for the second year running. And shortlisted for Brand of the Year by the Casual Dining Awards. Oh yes, and we were named Top 10 Best Places to Work in Hospitality by Caterer.com.
Whilst we didn’t make the published Top 10, we were also in the Sunday Times ‘Ones to Watch’ shortlist. Quite the recognised accolade!
The first ever Koh Lounge takes residence in Bournemouth
As the concept of our experiential pop-up developed, we took the bold step of giving it permanent residency as a new neighbour for our Flagship, Koh Bournemouth. The first Lounge prides itself on its killer cocktail menu with a resident DJ to rev up the atmosphere across the weekend. Pop in during the day and find young entrepeneurs hot-desking, whilst enjoying bottomless coffee and nibbling on the first of our Thai tapas sharing boards.
Starting the year with a bang!
Just one week into 2018 and we were awarded the Lux Tourism Award for Best Thai Restaurant Group – South England.