Yet another international cuisine is now on offer to the people of Neath as the town’s traditional Victorian market has welcomed a taste of the Orient.
A new Thai Café has been opened by former Swansea University student Orawan Jones, who wants to bring the spices and flavours of her homeland to Neath.
The café is a new departure for the market but also a new career for Orawan. After 15 years as a social worker she felt it was time for a new challenge.
“When I was a social worker I used to bring in traditional Thai curries for my colleagues and they would often say I should open a cafe.
“And when my children used to bring friends home they always enjoyed the spicy meals.
“I love cooking and eventually decided to try a new challenge and open a café.
“I came to Neath because there are a lot of Thai people living in the area and I know people here are keen to try new tastes. You only have to look around at the variety of different cooking styles in the town to see that,” she said.
The café opened earlier this year and more and more people are popping in for a meal.
There is also a growing take-away market which Orawan would like to expand.
“It was difficult in the beginning but now I am more confident about the future with more and more people saying how much they enjoy my food,” she added.
Councillor Ali Thomas OBE, Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council said,
“The thriving market plays a big part in attracting people to Neath Town Centre. I’m sure the new Thai cafe will add even more variety and is a welcome addition to the traditional businesses located at the market.”
Neath General Market is a traditional covered market for top quality local produce. It is housed in a building dating from 1837. Renovated in 1904, the market is an eclectic place where you can find a trendy posh hat and bag boutique next to a butchers' counter.
Fresh fruit and vegetables, florists, children's fashions and Welsh crafts vie for attention – while your hunger pangs can be eased in one of the cafes selling traditional Welsh food along with other modern classics.
The Victorian Market is in the heart of the town and is one of very few of its kind left in Wales. Situated in Green Street, it has been providing goods for visitors for 170 years. Many of the businesses have been handed from generation to generation.
It was built in 1837 at a cost of £1650 and for a number of years was a series of covered stalls around an open space.
In 1904 the present building was completed at a cost between £7000-£8000.
In 1999, the market was refurbished once more, receiving a new roof together with new glazing and lighting, whilst retaining the Victorian features and the unique atmosphere in this traditional market town.
There are currently 61 stalls with just one vacancy and anyone interested can contact Nathan Davies on 01639 686987