COVID-19 devastated many businesses but also created new opportunities for those who were brave enough to start up during the pandemic.
Against all odds, one business in Hua Hin not only survived the lockdowns and various regulations, but has gone on to flourish as life has started to return to some form of normality.
After she began smoking salmon at her home in Hua Hin, 37 year old Waree Sriton had a decision to make.
What began as part hobby and part means of generating some additional income, Waree started smoking salmon for friends and family.
But fairly quickly and entirely by word of mouth, more people kept asking to try Waree’s smoked salmon. She then set up a Facebook page, which gave her a platform to promote her salmon and orders started to roll in.
Then it was decision time.
Sensing there could be an opportunity in her found ‘business’, Waree had ambitions to take her salmon smoking to the next level.
“I started to smoke salmon at home and I could sell it to friends and family and to people on Facebook”, Waree told Hua Hin Today.
“But I had no footfall. I thought that because the salmon seemed to be quite popular, maybe I could open a restaurant.
“I didn’t want the restaurant to be just another restaurant and I thought a restaurant around the speciality of salmon could do well,” Waree, who is a self confessed foodie but who had no prior experience running a restaurant business, explained.
“I began planning about the restaurant in mid to late 2020 and it took about 6-9 months of research, learning and perfecting the recipes before I actually opened the restaurant.
In March 2021, Waree took the gutsy move to open her restaurant and with that Salmon House 102 – Hua Hin’s first and only specialty salmon restaurant – was born.
The concept around Salmon House 102, which is located on Soi 102, is high quality cold smoked and cured salmon and fish.
But just two weeks after opening, another COVID-19 wave hit and the restaurant was unable to open for dine in customers.
The early momentum Waree had generated at Salmon House 102 had been completely dashed.
Like many restaurants, Waree quickly turned to food delivery apps such as Foodpanda and Grab as a way to generate custom, as well as creating an ‘in-restaurant’ shop.
And it worked, orders began to come in once more but that too generated its own problem.
Waree said that with the addition of Foodpanda and Grab, she quickly needed to ensure she had sufficient stock and understand how to manage inventory more effectively.
“It was a big learning curve and a challenge, but we got through it”, Waree said.
Today, Salmon House has expanded its menu to include a wide range of offerings such as smoked salmon, gravlax, salmon rolls, sashimi, spicy salmon salad, sandwiches, bagels and pasta.
“We use Pacific salmon (Coho) which is low in fat and high quality. This helps us to create a really good product”, Waree said.
“We are curing and smoking everything ourselves by hand, using a mixture of hickory, cherry and apple wood. It’s a long process but it helps to get the best flavour.
“Actually, on our Facebook page, there is a lot of information about the smoking process, so people can read about it there”, Waree added.
The salmon is available as cold smoked, but also in various different cures such as gravlax, citrus fruits, lox and beetroot & coriander.
Some of the most popular dishes on the menu at Salmon House 102 include salmon steak with squid ink pasta and cherry tomatoes, cold smoked salmon salad with shallots, apple and cucumber and Ravioli filled with smoked salmon and spinach.
The white wine poached salmon and cubed cucumber is also popular.
“We have quite a big mix of customers, all different people. There are a lot of foreigners coming to eat in the restaurant, others just buy the smoked salmon to take home,” Waree said.
“Thai customers mostly order on Foodpanda or Grab, they like the spicy salmon salad and the sashimi,” Waree added.
In addition, the hot smoked mackerel and salmon mousse are also popular.
“We also get requests for some special items such as pasture raised New Zealand rib eye and pork tomahawk which we can smoke but you need to order in advance, normally a couple of days before”.
Waree says she now has plans to try and expand her business by offering wholesale options to restaurants, as well as bringing other outlets on board as resellers.
Salmon House 102 is located on Soi 102, you can find more information at https://www.facebook.com/salmonhouse102/