Luscious Birmingham restaurant inspired by land of smiles unveils fun highlights as it celebrates 20 years

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The team behind one of Birmingham’s most successful restaurants unveil highlights of the past two decades since they first opened

From hosting TV stars like Ainsley Harriott and Len Goodman to serving behind the bar two days before giving birth - the team behind one of Birmingham’s most successful restaurants have so many special memories.

It’s twenty years since Sabai Sabai Thai restaurant first opened in Moseley in 2024 with a mission to bring their family expertise from Thailand to Birmingham. Since then husband and wife team, Juree and Torquil Chidwick, have overcome the pandemic and cost of living crisis to manage five popular restaurants with the others in Harborne, Stratford-upon-Avon, Birmingham city centre and Solihull.

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Did you know Sabai Sabai means ‘chill and relax’? The restaurants are renowned for their exquisite Thai flavours, far eastern warm ambiance and commitment to exceptional service. Torquil, who was born and raised in Moseley and Juree, started their business after graduating from Bradford University and knew it wasn’t always going to be plain sailing.

Juree said: "My heart has always been in Thailand, and with most of my family working as chefs or owning restaurants over there, it seemed only natural to open a restaurant and bring a little bit of Thailand to the West Midlands.

“Running a small restaurant was a huge learning curve.  We had to enlist the help of our families to help get the business off the ground. Our Chef, Suvanna, is Juree's mother, and she ran the kitchen for a year whilst my brother, Ciaran, worked front of house.”

Juree and Torquil Chidwick from Sabai Sabai with their team Juree and Torquil Chidwick from Sabai Sabai with their team
Juree and Torquil Chidwick from Sabai Sabai with their team | Delicious PR

In 2005 the couple negotiated an extension of the Moseley branch, upping their covers to 44 with Yui, Juree's cousin, as manager. Torquil and Juree then set their sights on a new venture in Harborne.  

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"People thought we were taking on too much of a risk," said the couple, but despite this, Torquil and Juree pushed on to open their second venue in a new development on Harborne High Street in 2011.

In 2016, the couple branched out to tourist hotspot, Stratford-upon-Avon, where they opened their third site in a Grade II listed building on Wood Street, just a stone’s throw from the RSC.   Torquil added, “It's a beautiful site in a great tourist area, but again, not without its seasonal challenges.”

Yet hot on the heels of that site, the following year Juree and Torquil made the move into the city centre, opening their fourth site in Waterloo Street and holding their own in a location nestled among some of the Midlands’ top chefs.  

Torquil said:“Over the past 20 years, Sabai Sabai has become synonymous with excellence in Thai cuisine, thanks to our dedication to using only the freshest ingredients and traditional cooking techniques passed down from Juree’s family." 

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Sabai Sabai Thai restaurant in BirminghamSabai Sabai Thai restaurant in Birmingham
Sabai Sabai Thai restaurant in Birmingham | Delicious PR

With its commitment to authentic flavours, fresh ingredients, and exceptional service, whether you're craving classic dishes like Pad Thai and Green Curry or seeking new adventurous flavours – there is something on the menu for everyone. 

As with all independents within the hospitality sector, the couple have faced challenges along the way, pandemic closures, staffing and raising rate bills, but their passion, dedication and commitment to consistently great food and good customer service has enabled them to weather the storm and stay robust post pandemic.

Last year, despite extortionate business rates and the cost of living crisis, they opened their fifth restaurant in the couple’s home town of Solihull, much to the delight of the borough’s Thai food fans. From mouth-watering curries to fragrant stir-fries and aromatic soups, every dish is crafted with passion and precision by their talented team of chefs.

Beyond the exquisite flavours that grace their plates, Sabai Sabai has become a beautiful gathering place for friends, families, and colleagues too. “Our restaurants have been the backdrop for countless celebrations, from birthdays and anniversaries to graduations and engagements. We take great pride in being more than just a place to dine; we are a community hub where memories are made and shared. We're so happy that Sabai Sabai has done so well and hope that we are able to continue to grow over the next 20 years.”

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Behind the bar - just two days before giving birth!

Juree added:  “There have been so many memorable moments over the years, like serving behind the bar in the newly opened Harborne just two days before giving birth to my son!"  Torquil adds, “My favourite time was when TV Chef Ainsley Harriot and Strictly’s Len Goodman came to film us for their BBC TV show. They were hysterically funny. The team had a great time.”

The modest pair have also won a string of awards along the way. Juree won Entrepreneur of the Year at the West Midlands Women of the Year Awards 2016, Best Restaurant at The Birmingham Awards, Best Oriental Restaurant 2016 & 2017 and were nominated again for the Midlands Food Drink & Hospitality Awards 2018.

Juree said:  "To celebrate the 20th anniversary we will be hosting special events and promotions throughout the year, including exclusive tasting menus, and celebratory events. We hope our customers will continue their support and join us in raising a glass to the past 20 years and toasting many more to come.”

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