Approved food and beverage venues such as restaurants were once again permitted to serve alcohol on the premises until 10pm, as per the new directive issued by Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew late last Tuesday (Sept 28) although bars and entertainment venues are to remain closed.
Areas such as Phuket Town and Patong saw customers return to create a vibrant atmosphere with an increased number of Sandbox tourists evident on Bangla Rd and surrounding areas being able to enjoy a drink with their evening meals. Similarly, the roads around central Phuket Town were crowded with people and parked cars on both sides of the road.
Akradej Surakanit, owner of Sharks & Chill restaurant located near the seahorse roundabout in Phuket Town, was delighted to be able to reopen after 6 months of forced closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic and strict regulations around alcohol sales. Formerly a bar, Mr Akradej had attempted to sell the business after the enforced closure but was unable to do so. He subsequently decided to transform the venue into a restaurant which allowed him to reopen and be able to provide again for his staff.
“We have more than 30 staff and, even if wages are reduced, it is a positive and we can look to move forward together,” said Mr Akradej. “We are a family so we will hold hands and look to the future with confidence.”
Sharks & Chill is open from 17.00 to 22.00 and strictly adheres to all mandatory health and safety measures in place including the checking of body temperature before entering the premises, the availability of alcohol-based hand sanitizer and all tables set at an appropriate distance. Staff have been vaccinated two or three times, must wear rubber gloves and a facemask when serving customers in the shop. Additionally, the stage area where musicians play live has a plastic sheet installed to separate them from the customers.
The restaurant specialises in spicy, southern Thai food such as fresh shrimp chili paste, mixed vegetable curry, spicy tom yum, and turmeric fried chicken although does offer international dishes too. Mr Akradej has plans to extend his opening hours soon from lunchtime and may introduce a set menu for customers.
For now he is just happy to be reopen and to be receiving customers again as his business slowly strives to recover from a devastating period.
“You could feel the buzz and excitement on the first day of reopening today and I just hope this is a sign of positive times to come and everything can recover soon,” he concluded.