There are very few sports bar/restaurants in Thailand that resemble those that you would find in western Canada except Nok & Joe’s located at Bangtao Beach in Phuket. 

There’s a sign outside Nok & Joe’s place that says, “No shoes or shirts required” and that pretty well sums it up. You get an easy peaceful feeling upon entering this establishment.

Joe Burgess (seen below playing table-top hockey) came to Bangtao in February of 2005 to help with rebuilding after the huge destruction wrought by the 26 Dec 2004 tsunami. While working in the area, he met Nok, who ran a small restaurant and before long they were a couple. In June of that year, they went to Canada so Joe could finish a construction project in the Canadian Rockies.

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First, a little background on Joe; he was born in New Westminster, but raised in Spillimacheen, BC, about three hours west of Calgary. At age 16, he took summer work framing homes, then went to college to study architecture, but decided he didn’t want to spend his life working in an office, so at age 18 he dropped out and started his own company, at first taking on small jobs but then he took a log-home building course and got into hand-crafted timber-frame homes as well as custom stonework.

Between 1980-1990 Joe Burgess Handcrafted Log & Timber Homes had four trucks on the road and 25 men working for it. In all, Joe built about 50 homes, but his crowning glory came in 1997 when he built the “Lodge of the Ten Peaks” in Lake Louise. At 15,000sqm, it’s the second biggest log structure in Canada — it took thirty guys working 20 months to finish the project. After the Lodge of the Ten Peaks, Joe restored two back-country log ski lodges; the first was Skoki Lodge in Banff National Park, where Prince William and Kate Middleton, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge recently stayed, and the second was Twin Falls Chalet in Yoho National Park, so he finished his building career in Canada with three fabulous projects. Everything had to be flown into those final two both projects by helicopter, everything: food, people, tools, machinery.

Joe had to pull his team out of the Twin Falls project on 15 Dec 2004, and having just split from his wife of 21 years; he was staying at a hotel in Golden BC and saw the news about the tsunami horror in Southeast Asia. Being a builder with a first-aid ticket and having worked as a volunteer firefighter, he’d seen death firsthand and felt he could help with the rebuilding efforts. So Joe enlisted his daughters to help him put together a resume and they sent it out to about fifty aid organizations, but surprisingly got no response. Eventually, he just got on a plane and headed to Asia, stopping in Australia along the way, and while flying Downunder he read a newspaper article about a relief group called “Hands on Thailand”, which was based in Bangtao. Joe contacted the organizer and he told Joe to hurry up, as the group had few tradespeople who actually knew how to build. Joe stayed with the group for four months, building a few homes and doing a lot of repair work, including plumbing, electrical work, and carpentry.

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Joe had to return to Canada to finish the Twin Falls project and he took Nok with him to cook and help out at the base camp – imagine, she’d never been to Canada before and had never been in a helicopter. Upon arriving in Calgary, she was taken on a 15-minute helicopter ride through Canada’s Rocky Mountains to one of Canada’s most exclusive lodges.

When they returned to Thailand in the fall of that year, they decided to build a new restaurant giving Nok’s original restaurant to her sister, Nuan. Nok has over three decades of cooking experience and Joe has over three decades of building experience working on custom log, timber and stone buildings throughout Canada. Combine the two and you get an eatery with a unique, natural and relaxing atmosphere. The beautiful handcrafted log and wood restaurant is certainly one of Phuket’s most unique dining establishments.

Work on the Bangtao restaurant started on 12 Nov 2005; the original section opened on 24 Dec 2005; the garden, buffet, sala area and the upstairs section were added on 14 Oct 2006; the sports bar & pool table then added on 4 May 2008.

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Hanging in the rafters are Calgary Flames and Quebec Nordiques team jerseys, a Newfoundland Lobster company t-shirt, Bjore Salming, Steve Yzerman and Dave Keon jerseys, Toronto Maple Leaf and Vancouver Canuck pennants, license plates from Alberta, Manitoba, and Ontario, and of course, a Canadian flag.

There’s also foosball and snooker tables and even a table-top hockey game. Nok & Joe also own two dogs that drift in and out of the premises smiling at customers they like, or snarling their disapproval at those they don’t.

As he is a true cowboy, it’s fitting that Joe sells cowboy boots (Brahma & Boulet), hats, belts, and jean jackets, jean shorts, and jean shirts. And Joe even sells pure maple syrup from Canada.

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The food is a combination of Classic Thai, western and seafood, and includes homemade burgers, pizza, pasta, and chips. Nok (seen above) organizes Thai cooking classes and she can provide a catering service as well and hold birthday parties too. There’s live music every night except Monday.

There’s also free wifi and Nok & Joe have set up a kid’s zone as well where the little ones can play with video games, puzzles, toys and watch movies.

And Joe also ranges short and long- term leases on villas, homes, and condos; he can even arrange visa trips for you as well as arrange trips to all of Phuket’s major tourist attractions plus the beautiful surrounding islands.

Every Wednesday and Sunday from 6:30pm, the couple puts on a BBQ buffet and cabaret show with performers from the Cabaret & Dream Bar in Patong. The all-you-can-eat spread features BBQ beef, chicken and pork steak, battered prawns, pork ribs, chilli con carne, cottage pie or Hungarian goulash, mashed potatoes, spring rolls, stir-fried egg noodles, tomato salad, potato salad, cole slaw, mixed vegetable salad, garlic bread, and fruits. All for only Bt499; Bt375 if you want to skip the show.

Nok & Joe’s is open daily from 9am-midnight.

P.S. Joe returns home to Canada every year where he spends time with his daughters Ashley and Abbey, and other family and friends. When he’s not doing construction work, time is spent riding the range by horseback, checking cattle, doing round-ups, branding, fencing, training horses, fixing equipment and other ranch work. He’s a regular cowboy. And proving his blood flows red and white, Joe’s been known to fly up to Bangkok just to skate with the Flying Farangs in their ninety-minute practice sessions.

Contact info: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 081-538-2110/ 087-279-6532

(Sadly Joe Burgess passed away on Wed March 14th, 2019, from COPD and will be remembered fondly by all those who knew him.)   

Remembering Joe Burgess

Joe Burgess sadly passed away in the early morning hours of March 14th.

If you knew Joe, you couldn’t help but like him. With his infectious smile, he was always trying to get you to give him gear for his fledgling ball hockey and ice hockey programs in Phuket.

And he always wore his distinctive cut-off blue jeans, even when he was playing ball hockey. Joe first came to Phuket to help with the clean-up after the devastating tsunami of 26 Dec 2004, but he stayed on, fell in love with Khun Nok and opened a restaurant on Bangtao Beach called Nok & Joe’s. He built the restaurant and its furniture mostly out of driftwood. Joe was a skilled carpenter, having built Canada’s third-largest log cabin – he and his team had to be helicoptered in to do the work.

Nok & Joe’s was like Bangtao’s Cheers, you always felt welcome and everyone knew your name. Nok is a great cook and she even had her own cooking school. There was a katoey cabaret that performed a couple of times a week and Joe covered the place with hockey memorabilia. When Joe got word that former NHL star Bjore Salming was staying at nearby Kamala Beach, he slid a note under his door, inviting him to Nok & Joe’s – Salming’s Maple Leaf jersey was already flying in the rafters of Joe’s restaurant.
When Joe couldn’t find enough players to play ball hockey, he would recruit his kitchen staff to play, which would leave Nok somewhat bewildered and the kitchen scrambling during a luncheon rush.

In the last year of his life, Joe got ice in Phuket and he couldn’t have been happier, even if the Zamboni wasn’t working properly. Joe taught kids and organized shinny hockey at the Phuket Ice Arena in Boat Lagoon.

Dam it Joe, you should have told the Grim Reaper to leave you on the ice for a few more shifts.

You will be missed, and all your pallbearers should wear cut-off blue jeans.


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