New restaurateur hopes upcoming Thai restaurant will make a boom in Highland Village
| Mississippi Clarion Ledger
Jackson native Will Puckett is opening a Thai restaurant in Jackson to fill a void he saw after a trip to Thailand.
While on the trip, Puckett was drawn to the fast, casual dining he experienced.
Tuk Tuk Boom will be catered to takeout with the option of dining in. This is a career shift for Puckett, as he previously worked in commercial insurance.
“My family is kind of an entrepreneurial family,” Puckett, 27, said. “My dad has his own business so I grew up in the family business, so I always wanted to do something on my own.”
Located at 4500 I-55 North in Highland Village, the new restaurant is located in the former Ulmer’s Stride Rite Shoes space.
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Tuk Tuk is a three-wheeled taxi in Thailand, making it a fitting name for a restaurant with plenty on-the-go ordering options. Customers can use the pick-up area inside the restaurant or a pick-up window located on the southeast corner parking lot of Highland Village. The restaurant will also have indoor and outdoor seating for customers looking to dine in.
The restaurant will offer traditional Thai fare as well as specialty items Puckett and his chefs put together.
At the head of the kitchen is executive chef Craig Hamilton, who was previously a chef at Char restaurant and comes from a family with over 50 years of restaurant experience.
The entire menu was made by Hamilton and sous chef Soi Ha at Puckett’s house to make sure everything tasted right before opening up. They even created a wok on the back porch using a crawfish burner, Puckett said.
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“Our goal is that you could walk in here and not have a single idea about Thai food and get something you enjoy no matter what you get,” Hamilton said.
Surrounding Tuk Tuk Boom are several eateries such as BRAVO! Italian restaurant, Beagle Bagels and Apolos Mediterranean Cuisine. Apolos was an inspiration, Puckett said, as it has a similar fast common casual experience that Tuk Tuk Boom is implementing.
Not to mention Apolos’ owner Alex Eaton has been very helpful during the entire process, Puckett said.
“I’m one of those people that likes to help people succeed, so when he’s asked for advice, I try and tell him what not to do and not what to do, because I’ve made every mistake in the book,” Eaton said.
In addition to advice, Eaton said he will let Tuk Tuk Boom sample it product with incoming Apolos’ customers, so they can get feedback.
Tuk Tuk Boom’s integration into Highland Village tradition will start by partnering with the monthly trivia night held in the Highland Village Plaza courtyard the second Friday of every month.
When it opens, the restaurant will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. once the opening date is finalized. Lynsie Armstrong, the marketing director of Highland Village, believes the new concept will quickly become a staple in Jackson.
“I feel like there’s just going to be people waiting to get in the door that first day, and I have no doubt that it will become a spot that’s a go-to,” Armstrong said.
Puckett would like to eventually expand, but wants to change how Thai food is perceived first.
“I feel like a lot of people haven’t tried it because it’s foreign and we wanted to bring it somewhere like Highland Village that is cool and has been around for a long time,” Puckett said. “People are kind of scared of Thai food because it’s not been approachable and I’m trying to make it approachable because once you try it, you kind of get hooked on it,”
Contact Nile McNair at [email protected]
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