Warm up at Whitianga's House of Chang during the town centre upgrade 05 June 2018 The House of Chang Thai restaurant upstairs at 3/33 Albert Street is one of the businesses affected by Stage One of the Whitianga town centre upgrade work. Parts of the street are closed to vehicle traffic in stages until the end of the year while the upgrade takes place. Photo: From left to right, Folk Murray, co-owner Chachreekan Murray, and the two chefs Narwong and Ying Yang. Max and Chachreekan Murray have owned The House of Chang for two years now, while Chachreekan has been running the business for more than five years. Their son, Folk, also works in the restaurant. Together, they have built a warm friendly place to be, with a family feel. Max says they have lived in Whitianga for over 18 years and came here to the beautiful peninsula for the lifestyle. Two chefs work fulltime in the kitchen while Chachreekan and Folk run the front of house. In the busy summer season they generally take on four or more staff to help wait on tables and work in the kitchen. Chefs Narwong and Ying Yang hail from the north and north-east of Thailand and that's where a lot of the inspiration for the flavours on the menu come from, while Chachreekan is from Phayao, which is also in northern Thailand. The dishes may be exotic - the crispy pork dish is a favourite as is roast duck - but the ingredients are as local as can be. "We work hard to obtain as much produce locally where we can," says Max. He visits the local supermarket three to four times a week for fresh vegetables. Max says his business hasn't been impacted too much by the Town Centre upgrade, if at all.Recent turnover has been comparable to previous years so far. Being upstairs at 3/33 albert Street gives them a great bird's eye view of the works as they progress and they have been watching things unfold below. "It looks very impressive and we hope it's going to look very smart," says Max. He feels there may be some impact from a possible loss of street-front parking, but hopes that again will be a very small inconvenience and hopes for the best for the town. There has been the normal winter slow period, but Chachreekan and Max feel they are wellsupported by their loyal local customers and hope that the warm inviting atmosphere keeps them all coming in for lunch and dinner, and to catch the overhead view of the upgrade works. They have a Lunch Club rewards system, that works similar to a coffee card at a café, so please come on down and get on the Lunch Club and work your way to earning a free lunch this winter. Who doesn't love a warm, free lunch! Works going on this week Placing and compacting sub-base and base course metal at the intersection between Blacksmith Lane and Albert Street, along with finishing off the kerb placement. Preparing paving blocks for the new footpath from Monk Street to Taylors Mistake. Grading and shaping new road to connect to the asphalt pavement. Placing new footpath paving bocks at the intersection of Monk and Albert streets. Continuing construction of the new pedestrian crossings to the west side of Albert Street. Continuing excavation of new tree pits on the east and west sides of Albert Street. Informer newspaper - buy local campaign The local Mercury Bay Informer newspaper is holding a “Buy Local and Win” competition. The aim is to support the local business community through a less than ideal time. To win is easy. Simply drop proof of your support of a Whitianga business (any business, not just those along Albert Street) into the large bin on the front verandah of their office in Monk Street, Whitianga. Proof can be in the form of an invoice or receipt. Please write your name and phone number on the invoice or receipt. On the last day of every month, they will draw one of the invoices/receipts out of all the entries they’ve received that month. The owner of the winning invoice/receipt will receive a $100 voucher to spend at any of the advertisers that have advertised in The Informer during that month. The Informer will run the competition for eight months, until the end of November, when the Albert Street component of the Whitianga town centre upgrade is expected to be completed. But that’s not all. There will be a second chance to win. As soon as Albert Street is open for traffic again, all the entries they’ve received over the eight month period will go into another, final draw. The owner of the winning invoice/receipt will this time around receive $500 to spend at any of the businesses that have advertised in The Informer during the period Albert Street was closed for traffic. The more regularly you buy local, the better chance you have to win.