I love meeting local entrepreneurs, they are problem solvers and always have a great story to tell. I recently sat down in Stoneham Park with Yoong, owner of the Hungry Monkey restaurant in Stoneham Rd. Her story is nothing short of inspirational.
Yoong moved to the UK from Thailand, married, became a mother, and worked in a local convenience store. But in the space of 18 months she faced huge challenges. First a change in personal circumstance led to her becoming a single mum, and then the owner of the store she worked in was arrested and jailed. Amidst this turmoil an entrepreneur emerged.
Yoong was determined not to take benefits so she took over the shop herself. She built the shop back up to profitability and then tragedy struck once more: Sainsbury’s opened a store nearby and her turnover fell instantly by over 90%. This was another problem she was determined to overcome, so looking to her own skills she started afresh.
Her young daughter loved learning to cook Thai food and Yoong began teaching her daughters friends too. So she transformed the shop into a restaurant, trained in childcare, and opened her new venue as a place where after-school children could come an learn to cook and in the evenings it was a Thai restaurant. One of the local children gave it its name Hungry Monkey!
Sitting in the park listening to this story was a real privilege. Yoong has all of the attributes of a great entrepreneur: imagination, problem solving, hard work, and not being scared to take a risk. She also has that other quality – being great fun to be around.
Today Hungry Monkey is open on Fridays and Saturdays and is an after-school cooking club during the week. Here’s a link to her webpage, you must stop by for a meal if you can: http://hungry-monkeys.com/
There are so many stories in Hove and Portslade like Yoong’s that I am learning from. I am determined to be a powerful advocate for our entrepreneurs and find ways to support them in their mission to create wealth, jobs, and provide fantastic services for our communities. It’s something you will be hearing a great deal more about from me going forward.
All the best, Peter