Posts filed under ‘Starting-up’
Service staff (waiter, waitress)
Interested parties, please e-mail me with your CV (or description of your experience, if any) at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also call 6333 1335 to schedule an interview at our 8 Queen Street location (or just show up any day at 2:30 pm).
Full-time and part-time positions available.
Well, 5:40 am. That can only mean it has been another sleepless night. I don’t know whether to consider it insomnia or a mind that is trying to process a million worries a minute. Perfect opportunity to test out the new version of Writer (the tool that I use to write blog entries) that comes with Windows Live Essentials.
So it has been a little over a week since the Standing Sushi Bar at 8 Queen Street has been open. I am cautiously optimistic on how the business is developing. The dinner crowd has been consistently good (except for this past Saturday, don’t know why) and our lunch has been growing daily.
The construction hoarding for the courtyard canopy at 8QSAM has finally been taken down, much to my relief. With the hoarding up we were basically invisible – it totally blocked our shop from being able to be seen from the street so someone would have to really look hard or already know we’re there. Not the best situation for a new restaurant in the neighborhood!
There have definitely been teething problems, a couple things I remember are the gas not being refilled properly which resulted in us not being able to cook for an afternoon and fiddling with a plug in the bar area that caused the circuit breaker to trip and all electricity shutting down for awhile. We also have a point-of-sale system that seems to control us rather than help us. That’s what I get for always choosing the high-tech options.
One of the biggest changes for me is what I do at the restaurant. At the original One Raffles Place outlet, I’m generally active there – waiting tables, washing dishes, or being the cashier. It’s small and casual so I can jump in and contribute easily. The new Queen Street location is bigger and our manager (Crystal) has created a great system for service and ordering. So I can’t just start helping out without disrupting what’s going on. It makes me antsy not being able to do anything, so I try to hover by the bar and pour beer from the tap when ordered. Can’t screw that up!
An area that I’d like to focus on in the next week is the sake bar. We have over 30 types of sake, a bunch of shochu and varieties of umeshu, as well as the full range of Suntory whiskey. But here’s what we don’t have that would actually make it easier for people to order any of these things… an alcohol menu! It would be great to have various sake sets so people could taste the difference between a dry or sweet sake or any of the other characteristics.
On another note, I’ve been following the entries written by Bruce Buschel who also just opened his restaurant (Southfork Kitchen). He’s blogging his experience for The New York Times Small Business section.
Finally! Standing Sushi Bar at 8QSAM is opening this Monday, September 27. It’s a much bigger space than the existing One Raffles Place branch and with that additional space we have put in a full sake bar, a robatayaki counter, sushi bar, and a large kitchen. That means an expanded menu!
To celebrate, we’re kicking off a free flow happy hour! From 5pm – 7pm Monday through Friday, enjoy free flow of Asahi beer for 15 SGD. Come check out our new digs and celebrate with a mug or two or ten!
Outside of happy hour, we’ll have a plethora of lunch sets including bentos, donburis, soba, and sushi! For students with school IDs, we have special sets as well at student-friendly pricing!
Standing Sushi Bar 8QSAM details:
Located just outside of the Bras Basah MRT Queen Street entrance. Nearest parking at Hotel Royal or the SMU Administrative building.
Thanks for all the support that has helped make this second branch a reality!
So now I own two restaurants. The existing branch at One Raffles Place and a brand new one at 8 Queen Street. The first restaurant is open, the other is not.
While the renovations for the new restaurant are complete, I am unable to open because I simply can not find local service staff.
The restaurant at 8 Queen Street (8QSAM) is under a new company. Singapore dictates a new company must hire only citizens and permanent residents for the first 3 months. After 3 months of paying the Central Provident Fund (CPF), a company is then able to hire foreigners based on a ratio of number of citizens / PRs employed to foreigner employed.
I read about how people are worried that foreigners will be taking jobs from Singaporeans. Maybe in some industries that’s true but in the food & beverage sector it is not.
Last week I placed an ad via CATS (the classified ads system for Singapore Press Holdings). The job ad ran in the Straits Times classifieds over the weekend and also online via ST701.com.
I had 95 people respond to that job ad – 95 people that wanted a service crew position.
Guess how many were Singapore citizens?
ZERO. ZERO OUT OF NINETY-FIVE.
Two out of the ninety-five applicants were Singapore permanent residents. Only one showed up for an interview.
A few months ago I placed an ad with JobsDB. Similar results – out of something like 230 applicants only 4 were Singapore citizens or permanent residents.
This is crippling for a new small business.
Suggestion: Rather than require new companies to start off by hiring only citizens / permanent residents, allow them to hire foreigners also. Give a year (or two) for the company to hire enough citizens to accommodate the ratio required by the Ministry of Manpower.
Sorry to have such limited updates recently. We have been short-staffed and that resulted in many hours spent working as a cashier at the restaurant. When I’m not manning the till, I’ve been focused on the next project – Standing Sushi Bar is expanding!
In my head I am seeing advertisements and commercials for next-version of products: Bigger! Better! New and Improved!
In a way Standing Sushi Bar at 8QSAM will be all those things. We have a much bigger space – 3 times the size of the One Raffles Place branch. With so much space we’ll be able to accommodate all you folks that prefer sitting; there is a section for tables and chairs! (Is it weird that I have to trumpet this as a restaurant? ). We will also have the sushi bar, robatayaki counter, and a bar for drinks.
The list of things left to do is a mile long. Waiting on CPF registration, food license approval, staff to hire, dishes to arrive from Japan, creation of menu, marketing tie-ups, etc. I remember a year ago setting up the original branch, well, with the bigger space and larger menu there seems to be an exponential increase in things to do.
I’m thrilled to be opening in the Bras Basah area. I’ve lived in the neighborhood for over seven years, and it has always struck me as full of potential. In the past six months the area has really taken off – Bras Basah MRT opened, the old Catholic High has been redeveloped for retail outlets, Food for Thought moved into 8QSAM, and even dblO migrated to Queen Street! I think the combination of being in the city core while being low-key is great.
I’m looking forward to the new opportunities. Standing Sushi Bar in Raffles Place is a totally different experience than Standing Sushi Bar at 8QSAM – for both me and the customer. The former is in the fast-paced business district; where diners want to eat fast, eat well, and go. The latter is a destination restaurant, for people to come to unwind, relax, and relish.
I don’t have an opening date yet but I’m aiming for mid to late August. There are many ideas bouncing around in my head and I’d love to hear more from the community – happy hour thoughts, opening promotions, how to get the word out about the new location, etc. Specific blog entries on these coming up soon!
For now it’s back to my dad’s birthday party here in Florida. No sushi in sight but a whole lot of barbecue waiting to be eaten! (Including a complete roast pig).
Credit card promotions at restaurants are rife in Singapore. I never noticed such promotions in the US, but here every restaurant has a tie-up with a bank where users of that bank’s credit card will get some type of benefit – be it a percentage off the bill, free food based on a certain amount you spend, 1 for 1 deals, etc.
Before Standing Sushi Bar even opened, banks were approaching to talk about tie-ups. I wish I had known more about how to deal with them.
Their value proposition is that they will increase awareness of your restaurant by including the restaurant in their collateral – primarily booklets and web sites that list all the venues that have deals with them and what the promotion is.
Since I was a soon-to-open restaurant, I figured that any awareness would be good. UOB is the bank best known for their restaurant tie-ups so when they approached me I signed on – offering discounts and a 1 for 1 omakase promotion to stimulate the dinner crowd.
The 1 for 1 omakase promotion was popular. It helped bring new people to the restaurant that would normally not eat dinner in the Raffles Place area. However a 1 for 1 promotion is hard to stomach, financially.
One of the awareness vehicles that the banks tout is that they will create banners and table tents with the credit card promotion that you’re supposed to place all over the restaurant. They pitch this to you as if it’s a good thing.
To me, a bank / credit card promotion should bring in customers from outside the immediate area. One of the advantages of a restaurant in Raffles Place is that the foot traffic is incredible – people will discover you and try you out regardless of promotions.
So a promotion should convince people that aren’t in the Raffles Place area to venture into the CBD and try out the restaurant. If a customer is already in the restaurant and has come of their own accord, the bank tie-up hasn’t contributed anything but the customer still gets the discount and then the restaurant makes less money without getting the benefit of the increased awareness by the bank promotion.
Tips on dealing with the banks:
– ASK FOR COMPENSATION
As a restaurant owner you’re losing money with every discount that you give. The bank is trying to increase the amount of times a customer will use their credit card (thus putting money into the bank’s pocket) by your restaurant’s promotion.
When negotiating with the bank, they should give you something tangible in return. While there is value in being included with their collateral and advertisements, you need to ask for money, subsidy, or an actual item. For example you could say to the bank, “I will do this 1 for 1 promotion with you if you subsidize the promotion by giving us 2,000 SGD.”
– TIE UP WITH THE BANK THAT PROCESSES YOUR CREDIT CARDS
You may be paying 2.5% of the total bill for every Visa transaction. If you partner with the bank that handles your credit card transactions they may be able to adjust the percentage rate to something lower.
– SET DEADLINES ON THE PROMOTIONS
Open-ended promotions are confusing for everyone. Make it clear when promotions will expire.
– EXAMINE THE BANK’S CUSTOMER DEMOGRAPHICS
Ask for the demographics of the bank’s credit card holders. Are they the right market for your restaurant? If a bank’s credit card is popular with students and you’re targeting professionals, you’re not going to want to promote to that bank’s credit card base.
– MEET WITH A FEW BANKS BEFORE COMMITTING
In the opening weeks, a flood of banks will meet with you and try to sign you to exclusive (i.e. can only sign with them or must give them the best deal) contracts. Make sure you’re getting a good deal from the bank (i.e. what they will subsidize) before committing.
– TARGET YOUR PROMOTION
Wait a couple weeks and see where you think you need help. For example, at the sushi bar we get a healthy lunch crowd – there’s no need for me to run a promotion to increase customers during lunch time. However we get few customers during the late afternoon and happy hour times. So with Standard Chartered I created a promotion that targets the happy hour crowd.
It has been awhile since I’ve written an informative entry on this blog. Straying a bit from my goal of sharing information for others who are interested in starting a small business or taking a step into the food & beverage industry.
I have a few topics lined up. Waiting for some time to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) and write. It’s surprising how taxing the sushi bar and Microsoft both can be. I’m on an airplane now, winging my way to Beijing for a week full of meetings as well as presentations at a customer conference. Perhaps with a little luck I won’t have to go the whole time without sushi and I’ll stumble upon a Japanese restaurant in the Chinese capital.
I think it’s a good sign that even though I literally eat sushi for multiple meals a day, I often still find myself craving it. My own personal “Super Size Me” substituting greasy Mcdonalds for fresh raw fish.
Three months of sushi
Fish and rice play in my mind
All the time, happy
While I’m gone from the sushi bar, we’re implementing some changes to the menu. More sets! More variety! The lunch sets have proven to be popular so we’ll offer additional ones as well as the option to add on some sashimi. That is my goal! For everyone to fall in love with sashimi! Much as Microsoft has touted a PC on every desktop (that was their old vision), I shall make it my mission to put sashimi in every person’s stomach.
We’re also changing the glass boards to feature our specials that come in from Japan a few times a week. Currently our glass board and the printed menu display the same information. Customers have had to ask the chef what the specials were and during the lunch rush it’s hard to communicate. Re-designing the printed menu in conjunction with the glass boards will allow us to constantly display what new items we have. I’m excited about this; I feel people will enjoy seeing so many new types of sea creatures and sushi. It should be fun for the curious and adventurous diners! (One special that we just got… wagyu beef! A thick slice placed on a small bed of sushi rice and then lightly flamed… HEAVEN).
Basically I’m thinking about how to encourage folks to try out new dishes. People are happy and comfortable with salmon (sake), tuna (maguro), eel (unagi), prawn (ebi), and yellowtail (Hamachi), but there is a world of fish out there to explore. I will admit that some are an acquired taste. 🙂 (Cod fish sperm, anyone? We had it two weeks ago).
Speaking of adventurous dining, my plane is about to land. And if there’s one culture that eats even more variety than the Japanese, it’s probably the Chinese. 🙂