I met up with an old friend who was one of the first I told about my standing sushi bar idea. I hadn’t seen him in months so filled him in on the progress. We got into a discussion about focus and ensuring the core concept is executed well.
Photo courtesy of YesICanUseChopsticks.com
The Standing Sushi Bar idea (for Singapore) started out as taking the Japanese concept and plopping it directly into Raffles Place. High-quality nigiri sushi served on bamboo leaves. Raw fish on rice accompanied by beer or tea. Affordable price. No seats. That’s it. No California rolls, tuna rolls, or maki of any sort. Want a Coke? Go elsewhere!
I thought about whether the Singapore market would be receptive to a place with a limited menu. While sushi is extremely popular here, I would be cutting off the sizeable crowd that enjoys only the cooked or vegetarian sushi (inari, tamago, California roll, etc.).
Standing Sushi Bar is a sushi restaurant, but I’m keen on offering food that is healthy. Scouting around Raffles Place, the health-oriented and weight-conscious lunch crowd seems to appreciate salads rather than rice dishes.
So I expanded the menu to include salads and soba noodles with sashimi.
Photo courtesy of taste-buzz.com – note this is just an example of what I”ll offer
I’m confident that the lunch crowd will stand, eat, and enjoy. My whole business model is based around the few hours the thousands of Raffles Place employees use for lunch.
But what was the Standing Sushi Bar going to do outside of lunch? I have to admit, rent is HIGH at OUB Centre. This is a business, it’s important to increase revenue (note – I don’t use the word maximize because if the focus fell to squeezing every cent possible out of the restaurant, the spirit of this venture would be gone and customers would feel that).
I don’t know why, but I’m obsessed with the idea of “standing and eating.” I like it. It’s comfortable. People ask why I don’t put chairs at the bar. I don’t want chairs there. I’ve been sitting in the office all morning, I don’t want to sit during lunch. If I stand and eat, I can lean, I can shuffle my feet, I can turn left or right, I can slouch, I can straighten my back, I can rest on one arm, I can fidget and get out of my sedentary life. Standing burns more calories.
I thought about what would attract a dinner crowd. Are they willing to stand? Do they want to drink alcohol? Would they prefer some cooked food?
Ready for my solution? Transform! That’s right, the idea is for Standing Sushi Bar to shapeshift in the afternoon. Half the sushi bar will convert into tables, chairs will appear, and we will have table service. To remain true to the name, there will still be a portion of the restaurant that is a standing sushi bar during dinner. At night we will expand the menu to include cooked items and offer a selection of beer and sake.
(Another consideration dealt with staff development – while some chefs pursue sushi as an art form and live / breathe sushi 24 hours a day, the majority of local chefs want diversity. By offering a full dinner service, the chefs can continue learning, creating new recipes, and growing in their career).
Back to my friend who I met with today. Scope creep. He said it was getting out of control and that I was trying to expand the original concept too much. He might be right.
And I haven’t even mentioned these yet:
Good times. :) It’s time to take the sushi knife to some of these plans.