Expansion the right move forward for Asian market favourite Tony

Tony Thommes of Ely Oriental Groceries

Tony Thommes believes now is the right time to expand Ely Oriental Groceries after seeing demand increase from his time at Ely Market Place. - Credit: Tony Thommes

A market stallholder who is preparing to open his first Asian grocery shop believes soaring demand meant now is “the right time and place” to expand. 

Tony Thommes and his partner Adrian launched an oriental food stall at Ely Market last year, opening up every Sunday thereafter. 

“My idea was something I had been thinking about for many years that Ely needs an Asian shop,” said Tony. 

“So many people like Asian food and used to have to go to Cambridge for it.” 

Tony has since seen demand rise and decided to open up a larger shop, called Ely Oriental Groceries, on Broad Street. 

He has made progress from the moment he thought about running an Asian food business in Ely, and his decision to exploit a gap in the market is paying off. 

“The demand is there, so we thought we should expand,” Tony said. 

“I’ve lived in Ely since 2017 and it was a natural place to start. 

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“I have met so many customers and other traders; I had no idea I would make so many friends.” 

Ely Oriental Groceries shop on Broad Street

Ely Oriental Groceries will open their new shop on Broad Street (pictured) after a successful time on the city's Market Place. - Credit: Facebook/Ely Oriental Groceries

Chinese, Malaysian and Korean products are some of the cuisines on offer at Tony’s shop, on top of the addition of frozen dumplings and banana leaves. 

Last August, Tony began to look for a new premises and received the keys to the shop in November. 

Between then and now, work has gone into ensuring the business is ready, and has already recruited one member of staff. 

“There are people constantly asking (about the shop) as the rumour that we were opening spread quickly,” Tony recalled. 

“As a regular market trader, it will be the end, but we will still be casual traders meaning I can ask for a pitch from time to time.” 

Tony’s last day on Ely Market Place is this Sunday ahead of opening the shop on March 26. 

His food service has also been nominated in three categories at next week's SME Ely Business Awards, including best new business.

He plans to run the business while working as an engineer, but he is confident he will be able to juggle both commitments. 

“We’d like to make it more sustainable and have more time for myself while continuing to provide a service for all our customers,” Tony added. 

“It’s all gone so fast, but I think it’s the right time and place for the shop.” 

Ely Oriental Groceries will be closed on Mondays but open Tuesdays to Sundays.