Location, Location, Location
After a trip to Japan in April 2008, I started thinking about bringing the standing sushi bar concept to Singapore. I felt it was an idea that would work well in the Raffles Place area, specifically in the 3 square blocks near One Marina Boulevard. Aside from Sakae Sushi, there was a lack of nearby sushi joints.
The economic gloom and doom had not arrived yet. I hired a friend (hi Milene!) to help me with initial research on what it would take to open a sushi bar in Singapore and also to help find an available location. No suitable location was found. We tried Robinson Road, Market Street, OUB Centre, Republic Plaza, the Sail (still under construction), One Raffles Quay, and a few other nearby buildings. I felt it was vital to have the right location. If this concept were located at Orchard Road, Dempsey, or Bugis I think we’d have an immediate fail.
While some may call it idiotic, I felt one of the ideal spots would be inside OUB Centre, where Sakae Sushi is located. My reasoning was that people in Raffles Place know OUB Centre is the place to get sushi, so if they come they will see Standing Sushi Bar. Additionally they can see the contrast between my place and Sakae.
Well, without an available location I put the standing sushi bar idea on the back burner and resumed regular life. In February I was complaining about not having any good sushi to eat for lunch and started thinking about how the economic situation had changed – it was time to search again!
It was very different. Many storefronts were available, and I found myself at OUB Centre looking at a spot in their new food court (where Burger King used to be). Connected to the MRT station, underground, easy access, and full of human traffic. Perfect! Except that the unit I was looking at was upwards of 1,300 square feet which would have forced me to change the concept dramatically. And the OUB Centre staff wanted it open in 1 month. Part of me was ecstatic – so much space! First shopfront when someone walks in from the MRT! But… after I found myself seriously contemplating taking it, I came to my senses and realized that trying to open a restaurant within 1 month with almost no experience would be suicidal.
Which takes me back to Sakae. The OUB Centre marketing manager mentioned she had a different, smaller unit. Where was it? Directly across from Sakae Sushi. “Yep, I’ll take it!”