Boonlert Thamsue said that he also thought he had the blessing to build from the Phuket Land Titles office, although there was no formal title deed.
So from 2010 until yesterday, the business - named Heaven - prospered. Nobody asked questions. No authorities challenged his right to be there.
The fact that Heaven had no legal title deeds may lead to more checks on properties erected or being constructed on Phuket's shorefront elsewhere along the west coast. Questionable erections abound on steep coastal slopes.
There was plenty of finger-pointing yesterday as a Royal Thai Navy-led tour by officials brought action at a previously raided spot, Nui Beach, where officials planted a sign giving just 30 more days before the structures there will be destroyed.
The ''owner'' there had kindly pointed out that if his place was classified as illegal, then Heaven further along the coast at the Kata Viewpoint had to be illegal too . . .
At Heaven yesterday, the owner pointed up towards Phuket's famous Big Buddha monument and said that if his restaurant was illegal, then surely the restaurants built high up in the Nakkerd Hills had to be illegal, too.
And so it goes.
Slowly but surely, illegal encroachments on public land that have been so obvious for so long are finally being drawn to the attention of the Royal Thai Navy, which appears less hesitant to act.
The five-year gap between construction and detection appears to have been a golden time in Heaven, judging from the scale of the building.
In high season, with plenty of tourists about, Heaven probably does very well in one of the best locations on the island.
For Lieutenant Sompop Khamkana and his Navy detachment, it was a matter of escorting Karon authorities to Nui Beach to erect the notice of demolition in 30 days.
The ''beach club'' there yesterday was occupied by a handful of Burmese workers.
A bit later at Heaven, Lieutenant Sompop explained that the coastal cliffs and ridges came under the jurisdiction of the Agricultural Land Reform office.
Structures were banned from steep slopes - leaving question marks over a number of profitable resorts and restaurants on other parts of Phuket's valuable west shore.
A little more finger-pointing can be expected as each illegal ''owner'' says: ''If my place is illegal, then what about that one?''
Lieutenant Sompop, when told about the possibility of illegal restaurants being open along the road to the Big Buddha, said: ''Thank you. We'll check it out.''
He may be saying that more often in coming weeks.