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New Chinese and Asian food store opened by Ipswich restaurant owner

PUBLISHED: 06:17 09 November 2019

Ipswich businessman Ken To has opened a Chinese and Asian convenience store in Carr Street, Ipswich.
Picture: DAVID VINCENT

Ipswich businessman Ken To has opened a Chinese and Asian convenience store in Carr Street, Ipswich. Picture: DAVID VINCENT

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Chinese restaurant owner Ken To has shown his commitment to Ipswich town centre by opening a second business.

Ipswich businessman Ken To has opened a Chinese and Asian convenience store in Carr Street, Ipswich. Picture: DAVID VINCENTIpswich businessman Ken To has opened a Chinese and Asian convenience store in Carr Street, Ipswich. Picture: DAVID VINCENT

Mr To has opened a Chinese and Asian food convenience store, Orient, in Carr Street.

There are Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese foods on the shelves including noodles, rice products, exotic sauces, fresh vegetables and frozen meats.

There are cake and biscuits, fortune cookies and dim sum too.

Husband and wife team Ken and Maggie To have been running their Chinese restaurant, Lanterns, in Falcon Street for almost seven years, and he was keen to branch out.

Ipswich businessman Ken To has opened a Chinese and Asian convenience store in Carr Street, Ipswich.
Picture: DAVID VINCENTIpswich businessman Ken To has opened a Chinese and Asian convenience store in Carr Street, Ipswich. Picture: DAVID VINCENT

He said: "I felt there was a need for a shop selling Asian food in one of the main shopping streets, for people who want to buy this sort of thing.

"It is a growing market.

"We are adding 30 to 40 new products every week. Many of these are requests and I try to get them in.

"I had been searching for a long time for the right premises and location for more than a year. This place came up at the right time for me.

Lanterns Chinese restaurant in Falcon Street, Ipswich was shortlisted for Business of the Year (Catering) in the Suffolk BME Business Awards 2019. Owners Ken and Maggie To with staff Felicity Bemrose and Darcey Burns. Picture: DAVID VINCENTLanterns Chinese restaurant in Falcon Street, Ipswich was shortlisted for Business of the Year (Catering) in the Suffolk BME Business Awards 2019. Owners Ken and Maggie To with staff Felicity Bemrose and Darcey Burns. Picture: DAVID VINCENT

"We have started really well. It is growing slowly as more people find out about us."

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Mr To, 47, has been in business in Ipswich for many years.

He previously ran the family's take-away in Suffolk Road, and then had a take-away in Felixstowe Road, which he sold on.

"We took over the former Brasserie and turned it into Lantern. It is going really, really well now."

The new shop was proving popular, he said. "It is growing. We have got a lot of regular customers now.

"This is something different for the town centre.

"It is important for people to invest in new businesses in the centre.

"There are too many empty shops and they need to be filled.

"If this goes well, perhaps I can take a larger shop.

"It is difficult though. It is possible to negotiate with landlords rents, but business rates is a big burden."

The customer base is very varied, he said, Chinese and Japanese, English, Polish and Filipino.

"We are open to everyone - the whole world comes in here," he laughed.

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