An interview with Thomas
How did Rocket begin?
We actually met –and worked together – long before we started Rocket. Bennie, Dannie and I knew each other from Sweden, and when we all ended up in Bangkok, I joined Flow Cocktail, a beverage catering and consulting company the two had started. We then opened up the Hyde & Seek Gastro Bar and headed myriad high-end mixologist gigs world. Some of these gigs took place at the Sri Panwa Resort in Phuket, where we worked closely with Jared, a converted Bostonian, to create memorable events for our guests. We realized that we shared a similar drive and passion for the F&B industry and how it could be developed in Bangkok.
When a management contract fell through in early 2013, we finally had the opportunity to create something meaningful together, and thus we started the Sapparot Group, which heads not only Rocket, but also Lady Brett Tavern and U.N.C.L.E., a craft cocktail bar. We officially opened the first Rocket branch in June 2013, and that’s when our adventure really began.
What makes Rocket different?
We introduce a wholesome, overall approach to social dining, giving love to all parts of our menu – we don’t leave anything out and we make sure that every service we provide is the best that it can possibly be. It’s not something you’re used to seeing in Thailand and it’s something that sets us apart. Rocket isn’t just about the food; it’s about the experience, and the lighting, mood, approach and the overall vibe we emulate all play subtle roles in creating this experience. It’s the sort of thing you can’t put your finger on, but that distinguishes a good restaurant from a great restaurant, and it’s something that we’re always working to improve.
How do you keep things exciting and interesting?
We’ve been growing so fast, and that means there’s always something new and exciting going on, whether that’s introducing new coffees and the new tapas menu, serving the Wonderfruit festival, or hosting photo competitions on Instagram to celebrate our customers. We go with the flow so we’re always keeping things unpredictable and unstructured, and you never know what to expect next.
Where do you get your inspiration for Rocket?
We don’t try to reinvent the wheel; we look for what’s missing in the market and do our best to provide that service. We take a lot of inspiration from the three S’s of the café industry; Stockholm, Sydney, and San Francisco. From Stockholm, we take the café culture – the idea that your social life revolves around cafes – and emphasize that through the Scandinavian designs and approach to food and bakery. In Sydney, cafes act as outlets that transform throughout the day, changing from family oriented brunch zones during the day to stylish cocktail bars at night, an idea that we try to epitomize in Rocket. Through San Francisco, we take the farm-to-table concept into a Bangkok perspective and work as closely as we can with local producers to build that synergy that can only come from a whole-foods approach.
What are your future plans for Rocket?
We want to introduce centralized production to crunch down on an even better quality and consistency of our product. We’re also looking to add fast, grab-and-go kiosks that augment the Rocket concept of eating well in a busy city. Farm-to-table remains something extremely important to us, and we aim to introduce traceability in our coffee program so customers can truly understand what goes into creating the drink.
What is one lesson you’ve learned from starting up the café?
It’s a challenge to maintain the balance between pushing the limits of the food and beverage experience in Bangkok while still ensuring that every product on our plates reflect the culture of the city. We’ve learned that perfected techniques we’ve used in other countries don’t always translate well here, and we’re slowly understanding how to incorporate Bangkok’s own spin on things into our senses of creativity.
What’s your favorite Rocket dish?
The next new Rocket dish is always the best Rocket dish!