THE co-founder of the successful Koh Thai chain aims to open five restaurants in five years after launching a new business with his own money.

As reported on Saturday, Andy Lennox is launching Zim Braai at Parkstone’s Ashley Cross, featuring food from throughout southern Africa.

As well as adapting African dishes for the UK, the venue's braai grills will feature ‘best of British’ seasonal fare and cater for the ‘flexitarian’ health trend – where meat eaters go vegetarian one day a week or so.

Zim Braai aims to launch as a Living Wage employer with all employees paid £8.75 per hour from the outset, once they have completed its Zim Training programme.

Mr Lennox was one of three friends who started Koh Thai in Boscombe in 2009. and built it into a successful chain. He led a management buyout with equity finance at the end of 2016.

He left as chief executive in August and said he no longer had much to do with the brand “apart from the fact we are all good friends”.

He said: “I built Koh so at some point I could immediately hand over the reins. That was quite key.

“I’ve been there a decade, I started it when I was 21, it has been 10 amazing years and I’ve learned so much. But ultimately, at the end of the day, it was time for me to go off and explore other options. I took it to its pinnacle.”

He added: “The next stage of Koh would have been more travelling, and I have a young family.

“For me, I suppose, I wanted to own my own thing. This is my own thing, I own it, my own money... it is me. It is a big thing for me at 30 to start this new brand, but I have a wealth of experience, knowledge and contacts made over the past 10 years.

Zim Braai, on Commercial Road, is due to open on November 28. “This is the new brand – the aim is five in five years,” said Mr Lennox.

He added: “Ashley Cross 10 years ago was the place to be and things tend to move in 10-year cycles. It is now becoming a really good foodie destination. You have a really broad mixture of people around, it is a great foodie destination and just needed that next wave of restaurateurs to come in and help.”