“We love Horsham, where we have good friends and often go out for a bite here in the evenings,” said Giggling Squid owner Andy Laurillard.
The move represents a long-held ambition to add Horsham to its growing portfolio of restaurants across the South East. Horsham residents, who frequent the Crawley branch, 8 miles away, have petitioned Andy to open in the town for some time.
“We always thought there was a gap in the market in the town where we’ve been looking for a site for the three years,” said Andy, who added, “Horsham is a great place to be and since it was pedestrianised, East Street has become one of the most attractive eating locations in the Weald, rivalling Brighton as a destination for food lovers.”
In the past few weeks, builders refurbishing the restaurant have been constantly bemused by a regular stream of passers by wandering in to a scene or devastation and organised chaos to ask, “Are you open yet?”
The three new openings will take the Giggling Squid group to eleven restaurants, as it bids to become the nation’s first national Thai chain. Maidstone is expected to be operational in June, followed by Sevenoaks in July. The company is also in advanced negotiations for two additional sites and in early discussions on three other sites in the south east.
Giggling Squid’s most recent opening, a 114-seater restaurant which launched in Marlow, Buckinghamshire in February, is already achieving sales of over £30,000 a week.
Giggling Squid also operates successful venues in Brighton, Hove, Crawley, Tunbridge Wells, Henley-on-Thames, Reigate and Stratford-upon-Avon.
Co owned with Andy’s wife Pranee Laurillard (the brand is derived from the nickname of one of their three children), Giggling Squid’s formula of serving “rustic” Thai cuisine, with the emphasis on sea- and street-food, is a winning one.
Meals are freshly prepared in the kitchen from scratch, and its healthy tapas menu, had proved universally popular, especially at lunchtime with office workers, “yummy mummies and “ladies who lunch.”
Since opening the first Giggling Squid in 2009, the pair deliberately set out to look and cook different – using drift wood and reclaimed timbers, to create a modern chic environment.
The lunch menu offers a choice of six Tapas-style ‘tasting sets’ that allow diners to sample several of different dishes in at a single sitting, costing between £8.00 and £10.50 with 16 individual dishes priced under £4.00. “Big” dishes with rice cost £6.50 to £7.95. “Combi” meals with starters are priced between £6.00 and £7.25.
The evening menu is more extensive with over 50 dishes available. The ever popular Thai Green Chicken Curry is £8.95.
“It’s all down to the food,” says Pranee Laurillard commenting on what makes the restaurants a success, which came come against a back drop of one of the longest economic down turns in recent history.
Employing the right staff is key. Pranee, a masters business graduate, who runs the operations side of the company now knows most of the UK’s Thai chefs. She has an extensive database of good staff – all eager to join the organisation.
Treating people well and paying them above the norm, is the solution to staff shortages which the industry has encountered since the introduction of new, stricter immigration controls.
“Thai managers are pretty thin on the ground – you can’t buy in our type of food from national suppliers and just have Polish chefs reheat it,” said Pranee.
Giggling Squid, 1 East Street, Horsham, West Sussex RH12 1HH
T: 01403 257477