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The Samui Times love nothing more than trying exciting new dining venues, finding great new cuisine to indulge in, then finding out who is on the team! This week we caught up with Troy Cox of the newly opened steak house The Squires Loft in Bophut Fishermans Village to find what he and the new addition to the culinary map are all about!
Troy, great to meet with you, can you tell us a little bit about the Squires Loft Brand?
Squires Loft originated in South Africa and was started in Melbourne Australia by a South African gentleman by the name of Lionel Miller. The tastes of Squires Loft mainly being our unique baste that is used on our meats and in our sauces and salad dressings are a product of the original and 1st owner Mr Lionel Miller. Whilst running the first store in a suburb of Melbourne called Brighton between 1994-95 another South African gentleman by the name of Joel Distiler visited this store for dinner and decided this brand was for him. Not long after these two gentleman opened up a store in South Yarra another suburb of Melbourne which become an icon of steakhouses in Melbourne and is still on operation today and is where I started my journey in 1998.
Where did you passion for hospitality come from?
I sort of fell into the hospitality sceene by mistake, after knocking round on building sites after leaving school. My father, being in the car industry, sold a car to a restaurant owner in what’s known as Lygon Street in Melbourne a famous strip of Italian restaurants. We had lunch with the owner and he asked me what I did for work and if I’d like a job in his restaurant. I started the next week and instantly fell on love with the hospitality sceene and the rest as they say is history!
Where did your journey with the Squires Loft begin?
My journey with Squires Loft began in 1998 after answering a small ad in the paper advertising for a bar man in a steakhouse on the other side of town to where I was working. I needed a change after working in Lygon Street for about 5 years. Little did I know 18 years later I would have opened 4 of my own stores and played a big part in opening several other stores as well as helping put the Squires Loft brand where it is today.
What aspects of the Squires Loft ethos do you find the most impressive to you personally?
I Remember as a 23 year old not long after starting at Squires Loft , thinking to myself how simple the Squires Loft philosophy was. Steak is a staple diet in Australia and never goes out of fashion, red wine goes hand in hand with good quality beef, put these 2 together with fresh produce daily and not complicating things you have a recipe for success. This is what attracted me to this brand and created the passion in me that to this day still burns quite fiercely
What aspects do you think make Squires Loft such an unforgettable dining experience for guests?
I think a few things that make Squires Loft a great dining experience is the simplicity of the food and menu that never changes, along with the most important aspect in any restaurant “Consistency ” you get the same taste and quality every time you dine at Squires Loft. The unique taste of our Baste is very addictive and we have a large percentage of our customers that dine on a regular basis. There are plenty of good steaks to be eaten in Melbourne but put our baste on our meat and its a taste sensation that no one can match. As well as our steaks we are famous for our pork spare ribs which are lovingly prepared to make your dinning experience an unforgettable one.
How similar is the Koh Samui Squires Loft experience to that in Australia?
One of the things we strive for at Squires Loft is to insure that when you walk into any of our restaurants whether it be in Koh Samui or all over Australia that you have the same experience where ever you are. I have done everything possible in the Koh Samui store to replicate every other Squires Loft I have opened in Australia. This includes importing all of our meat from Australia, with our own spec of meat this means no one else on the island of Koh Samui is using this meat.. We have had a lot of Aussies through our doors since we opened and they are amazed that it is exactly the same as back in Australia, some even saying they think it is better over here, not the case they might just be a bit excited being on holidays.
Why did you choose to bring the brand to Koh Samui?
I’ve been coming to the island of Koh Samui since 1998 the same year I started at Squires Loft. Every year since I have been holidaying once a year sometimes twice. I recognised some time back that there really has not been a true steakhouse on the island, so 4-5 years ago it was something I started to think about, putting a Squires Loft on Koh Samui. A lot of restaurants over the island and hotels all use the same Australian meat, but what puts us apart is that we have our own spec of meat which no one else can use cut for us by our meat supplier in Australia.
You have a great location, was that a lucky break or did you always plan to take a spot in the Fishermans village?
The location of the Squires Loft restaurant in Fishermans village was meant to be!!! We were literally hours away from taking a restaurant in the main part of Chaweng, when I was taking a ride around the island and ended up in Fishermans Village. I rode down walking street not even looking for sites when I saw a for rent sign of the front of a restaurant . I had a look and inquired to a gentleman who ran a dive shop adjoining the restaurant. It just so happened that he was from Australia and from the same state, who ate at our restaurants back home. I took one look at the inside and the next day signed on the dotted line. The place screamed steakhouse with beautiful dark wooden interior, huge space inside, with an even bigger outside area. It was a case of nearly being able to walk in and trade straight away. The kitchen unbelievably was like someone designed it for a Squires Loft restaurant. The bars, both of them immaculate and ready to use. We have done a few things inside cosmetically, and changed the front entrance, a fresh coat of paint and we were ready to open. We have a great bar which you can sit at outside the side of the restaurant and have bar tops with nice high bar chairs looking out onto walking street, a great way to spend a friday night at the famous fishermans village walking street market and watch the hundreds of people shuffle up and down the street. The venue we hope in the near future will attract people for private parties or maybe even some weddings. With the space we have we can cater for all types of events up to 200 people comfortably. The other great thing about our location is we are situated right next door to the wharf shopping mall, which offers a huge place for car parking and only a short walk to the front door..
We understand you have a bit of a secret marinade at the Squires Loft can you tell us about that without giving the secret way?
The main thing that puts us apart from all other steak houses is our basting sauce which we use when we are cooking. The gentleman who first opened squires loft in Australia took 2 years of experimenting with different ingredients to finally come up with a baste that helps bring out the flavour of the beef in our steaks. It also is what we marinate our famous ribs in for a minimum of 5-8 days and is in all of our steak sauces and salad dressings. A lot of people think we marinate our steaks in the baste, but we definitely do not. Our steaks are lightly basted whilst on the grill cooking. We have people asking us all the time what is in our baste? I have a standard reply to this question which I have been using for years. There is 23 different ingredients in our baste every time you come back ill tell you one ingredient. It always gets a laugh!!!!
Can you tell us about the Squires Loft Menu?
The squires loft menu has basically been the same from the first day we opened our doors. We source the majority of our meat from the lush pastures of country side Gippsland in Victoria Australia. All our meat comes from pasture fed primals with the exception of our black Angus cut of meat which is finished in feed lots for a minimum of 120 days to give it that extra tenderness and amazing taste. We offer every cut of meat possible, from the eye fillet, rump , tbone , porterhouse , scotch and bone on ribeye. Our ribs are pork spare ribs lovingly prepared and marinated as I mentioned already for a minimum of 5-8 days. Chicken, lamb, Wagyu burger , Wagyu sausage a sprinkling of seafood which consists of salmon or tiger prawns. We even cater for the odd vegetarian with a veg platter. Beef and reef eye fillet topped with a prawn kebab and your in heaven.. Our sauces aren’t just a sauce whipped up out the back. We have a dedicated factory back home in Melbourne which produces all of our sauces and importantly our famous baste. You can choose from mushroom, black pepper, BBQ ,green pepper,creamy garlic or the delectable blue cheese. Of course the salad selection of Greek, garden or CESAR,prepared fresh daily with a few sides of different veggies and there you have it!!!
You have some affordable wines for diners, can you tell us a little about your wine menu choices?
I’ve try’d to keep our wine list as affordable as possible with the emphasis on Australian wines. Most of our wines come from the famous Barossa wine growing region in South Australia. Penfolds an iconic wine brand around the world is heavily represented with a scattering of other Australian, New Zealand and a Spanish wines. As we grow so will my list and I have plans to introduce new wines to the list monthly. As a group we work hard on our wine lists as a glass of red goes hand in hand with an amazing piece of beef and only makes your dinning experience even better.
The island is abuzz with talk of the new steak house in town, what sort of feedback are you getting from your customers?
The feedback from our customer both tourists and locals has been very positive. We have worked hard on trying to attract as many locals as possible and make them feel as welcome as we can. Not only trying something new but experiencing the new taste and hopefully becoming a regular haunt for the local expat community. We appreciate how important this is to our business and will always strive to offer the best service and best food consistently to the island of Koh Samui.
You are incredibly passionate about hospitality and are a bit of a perfectionist, are your staff finding your passion contagious?
I still am incredibly passionate about the brand squires loft after 18 years and continue to promote and serve our wonderful food. It all starts with our staff and we put a lot of time and effort into educating our staff about our product and ensuring they can answer any questions the customers have to offer. They are still learning every day but are becoming more and more experienced with the way we do things at squires loft. I still love to serve tables and tell people our about our journey and what they about to experience on their plate. Even after 18’years I’m not even close to being sick of talking about and spreading the word that is Squires Loft.. This is what I try a rub off onto my staff and hopefully it’s contagious!!!
How are you enjoying life in Koh Samui?
I first came to Koh Samui in 1998 and have been coming back every year since, even getting married here nearly 9’years ago. Ironically I had my honeymoon in Fishermans village near where our restaurant is located. I started planning for this restaurant 4 years ago and after 2.5 years of pestering my wife finally convinced her to move her with our young family of two beautiful girls. Over the years I have made many friends around the island which has made it a whole lot easier to settle in both personally and business wise. We have found the expat community very welcoming and our girls go to the wonderful international school of Panyadee. I have gone out of my way to get as many locals through our doors as possible and make them understand that we value their patronage very highly. We offer a locals discount card which you can ask for when dining with us that gives you that little feeling of importance that we hope you can appreciate. I think this island is only growing in stature and with great people living on the island and supporting each other it’s a fantastic piece of paradise to love in.
What are you plans for the future for the Squires Loft?
I am currently building another squires loft in Australia which will,be ready late 2016, the plan in the future will be to have 6 months in Koh Samui and 6 months in Melbourne giving us the endless summer. Possibly looking at expanding the brand over Asia in the near future. But for now we are concentrating on making Squires Loft Koh Samui the number one steakhouse on the island.