BUDDHIST monks have blessed a new Thai restaurant ahead of its opening in Bearland next week.
The new city centre bar and eatery will occupy the home of the former Bearlands Restaurant near to the police station.
So Thai will boast unique, atmospheric dining in the old wine cellars of the historic building, while above ground city workers will be able to drop in for post-work drinks.
Culinary delights from the southeast Asian country will be home-cooked up by chef Thitapha Martin. Her husband John, who usually runs a building firm, has started the venture.
It has been all hands on deck since Mr Martin took over the lease in October last year as the family transform it into a tranquil Thai setting ahead of its opening on February 27.
Treasures from Thailand were blessed in the country by monks and the building itself was blessed by two monks from Birmingham on Monday. A good job too – as the historic building is thought to be haunted by a ghost called Catherine.
Mr Martin’s sister Karen Parslow, who has been helping out with preparations, said: “Back in Thailand they take food to the monks every day and on their birthdays they don’t receive gifts, instead they give to the monks.
“We were told what days we could do the blessing because they are done on ‘lucky’ days.
“A lot of work has been done to restore the building and now we are putting all the finishing touches to make it distinctly Thai. I think it looks very atmospheric in the cellars now.
“It was quite run down before so it is a far cry from how it used to be.
“They are hoping to start quite small and build up from there so there is potential to expand into the next cellar and use it for more tables or for private dining.”
The blessing took more than an hour to complete before invited guests enjoyed a taste of the restaurant’s offering.
Manager Richard Merriman, who is no stranger to working the bar of many a Gloucester drinking hole, said: “We will be running a happy hour from 5pm until 7pm in the hope that people will come in for a drink after work.
“We are also looking to do some theme nights such as jazz once we get settled.”
The restaurant will open for coffee and homemade cakes from 11am from Tuesday to Sunday and food will be served from noon until 2.30pm and 6pm until 10pm. It will be closed on Mondays.