FROM the point he launched his first restaurant, Hot Stones, in 1992, Anthony Wong knew that success would only come from growing the business.
One outlet would not give him the economies of scale to benefit the business. So, after getting people to cook meat on volcanic stones at Hot Stones, his company, Creative Eateries, lived up to its name and erupted with a host of culinary ideas.
Some 25 years on, Creative Eateries has around 50 outlets in four countries.
Wong’s daughters have joined the business, allowing him the flexibility to take on a big-picture perspective.
From Hotelier To Restaurateur
Wong, who spent his formative years in the hotel industry as a Hyatt man, has comfortably switched roles. An innate businessman and entrepreneur, he has built 16 different dining concepts in Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and Chengdu.
The self-funded business has outlasted many restaurants as they continue to rise and fall in Singapore’s volatile F&B industry.
Wong says that growth is not an option. It is a necessity, so newcomers to the F&B scene should consider if they have the depth of pocket to endure a long run up to an uncertain future.
He says Singapore is a good test bed, but less so a market to bank on. “It is a little small market.”
He sees the need to bring up a generation of Singaporeans who would expect to go out of Singapore to earn money.
And is the customer the most important person in his business? Find out what he thinks in Part One of the interview with STORM.SG.
Singapore’s reputation as a place to develop new concepts that can be exported or picked up by regional markets is in jeopardy.
While Singapore brands have gone out and made an impression regionally, its position as an F&B influencer is under threat. Neighbouring countries have figured out ways to create their own brands and are thus giving Singapore a miss. They are also expanding aggressively in the kinds of numbers that dwarf anything Singapore is able to create.
So, what lies ahead? Find out Wong thinks about the role Singapore can play in F&B down the line.