‘Business has been unbelievable’ – Sala Thong and Make a Pancake the latest additions to Stevenage Old Town’s changing landscape

Sala Thong in Stevenage High Street has been fully booked since opening.

Sala Thong in Stevenage High Street has been fully booked since opening. - Credit: Archant

When it comes to the food offering in Stevenage Old Town, the landscape is definitely changing.

Owner Lee Banks with one of his signature pancakes at Make A Pancake in Stevenage.

Owner Lee Banks with one of his signature pancakes at Make A Pancake in Stevenage. - Credit: Archant

Elegant restaurant On the Green, traditional fare from Mack’s Pie and Mash, and an American diner experience at Stevenage Taste have all added to the variety in the past year – with the latest additions coming in the form of Thai restaurant Sala Thong and Make A Pancake.

Having opened in Stevenage at the beginning of March after a successful 18 years building up a reputation in Cambridge, Sala Thong manager Paul Smith has been taken aback at the instant success of his second restaurant.

“Business so far has been unbelievable, the restaurant has been fully booked the whole time,” said Paul.

“We didn’t want a traditional Thai playing Thai music. We wanted to create a London vibe in Stevenage Old Town – we wanted a 2016 restaurant.”

The day team at Sala Thong in Stevenage Old Town.

The day team at Sala Thong in Stevenage Old Town. - Credit: Archant

For those with more traditional tastes, On the Green offers locally sourced seasonal British produce in a relaxed, intimate environment.

Since opening a year ago, the family-run business is the only place in Stevenage to offer live jazz music each month, with a local band playing every first Sunday.

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The idea for the restaurant was borne out of the owner’s own frustration at having to travel outside of Stevenage to find an independent, high-quality British restaurant.

Owner Marie-Claire Clinton said: “Stevenage Old Town is a lovely place, but it was mostly occupied by Asian cuisine.

“Business is going well, we are booked out most weekends, but customers are still discovering the restaurant.”

After moving to Stevenage to start a family, the owners of Mack’s Pie and Mash have hopes of opening more shops following the initial success of their first venture.

Positioned just off the High Street in Basils Road, Mack’s offers fresh pies complete with liquor – a staple meal for those growing up in the East End of London a century ago.

Jellied and stewed eels are also on the menu, with these surprisingly proving the most popular item among customers.

Since opening in September, customers have been arriving in their droves – many with memories of their childhoods.

Paul Arnold, one of the Mack’s team, said: “About 80 per cent of our customers are elderly people who come to reminisce about their youth after growing up on pie and mash.”

Those with a sweet tooth can opt for nearby Make a Pancake – sister shop of Make a Shake – which arrived just under a month ago serving customers waffles, crepes and pancakes with any chocolate or sweet of their choice.

The shop’s entrepreneur owner Lee Banks hopes the new sit down dessert parlour can have the same impact as his High Street shake shop, which it is directly behind.

“Make a Shake was a weird and wacky idea that nobody gave a hope to, but I proved them all wrong,” said Lee.

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