Restaurant owners on Koh Samui by chance

Petter Gustafsson and Johan Granholm should have been back home in Borlange in Sweden by now. Their plan was to go on a long vacation for six months,three months in New Zeeland and three months in Australia. But before that Johan wanted to show his best friend Petter his favourite place in Thailand:Koh Samui. Here they meet Johans old time friend Moon who owned a small bar.
     “One night we were sitting there chatting and Moon mentioned that there was an empty place just near her bar,” Petter recalls.
      “She wondered wether we would be interested in opening a restaurant together with her.”
     The two guys thought for one day. Then they decided to take the chance to make their dream of having their own restaurant come true. They borrowed some money from home and made plans for what they wanted the place to look like. At first their intention was to build everything themselves.
      “But when we should rent various tools it turned out that with every tool someone to handle it came along so we didn’t have to doanything but to show how and where we wanted everything,” Johan says.
     Three weeks after the their big decision they opened “Tre Kronor” – Three Crowns in English – just off the main road in Chaweng Beach. In that short time they had gone from a totally empty space and no experience whatsoever from running a restaurant, to a fully furnished place with a bar and a ice hockey sweater from Leksand on the wall.
     Petter and Johan owns 75%. They have had long discussions about what to have on the menu, how they wanted their place to look and the all important details that creates the profile of the restaurant. All those things that is nowadays popularly known as ‘the concept’.
     Moon takes care of all the practical matters, from administration to finding the suitable staff. The three of them has taught the Thai kitchen staff to cook Swedish favourites like toast skagen, pyttipanna, beef with onion, beetrootsalad, mashed potato and so on.
      “The staff had some difficulties in learning at first and we asked ourselves if this really would work out,” Petter smiles.
      “They were trying hard but we had to ask them if they really thought that the meatballs should bounce!”
     Obviously today everything is running smoothly since all the guest look very satisfied and seems to be enjoying every bite of meatballs with brown sauce and mashed potato (or macaroni) and lingonberry jam and other yummies. As for what to drink with the food there are plenty of choices, both Kopparbergs cider and Spendrups beer as well as homemade shots with various flavours such as Piggelin (swedish water ice) and blue fishes (a bit like salty licorice).
     The profile of Tre Kronor is mainly based on the total service and attention that Johan and Petter are giving and their efforts to create a special relation to their guests not only offering salty licorice, snuff, food and other necessities but also advices and help to Scandinavians in need.
     The atmosphere is warm and homey. Greetings like “Hi Soren,” “Enjoying the food, guys?” or “A bit to much yesterday, was it?” come natural. Johan and Petter know their guests and greet everyone with a personal remark.
     In order to be able to offer all the Scandinavian goodies they have received some much-needed help from home. Sweets like Ahlgrens bilar and other things are sent down from Sweden and Petters parents brought 40 jars of herring for the Christmas smorgasbord. Soon a stuffed head of a moose to put on the wall and a big plastic hockey game are due to arrive.
     The two Swedish guys not only run the restaurant but also offer excursions every week, for example diving trips to Koh Tao, and help out with hotelbookings. They show proudly their special t-shirts decorated with the restaurants logo, designed by themselves. In three months they sold 200 pieces of these t-shirts. They work every day and enjoy it most of the time.
     “Sometimes I feel a bit exhausted,” Johan admits.
      “But then I think about how cold it is at home and that my friends are on their way to another day at work. Then it immediately feels much better.”
     The difference between Moon’s former small restaurant and Tre Kronor, which the three of them owns together, is huge. The turnaround at Tre Kronor is ten times bigger.
      “Money was not the reason for us to do this,” says Johan.
      “Our aim was to reach break even so that we could stay here for a while.”
     That modest goal has long ago been exceeded. Word of mouth has made Tre Kronor well known from Borlange in Sweden to Sydney in Australia.
      “We will stay here for two years, then we might buy a round-the-world ticket…”
     Well let’s see. The most important word in that statement is probably the word “might”…

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