Restaurant Executive: Adrien Desbaillets, President SaladStop!

As part of a new series on this blog [Retail / Restaurant Executive] we will be interviewing restaurant and retail executives from all over the world to gain insight and perspective into how they make their decisions, grow their businesses and deal with challenges.

Adrien of SaladStopToday is Adrien Desbaillets the President at SaladStop!

Q. When and why did you start Salad Stop?
 
We started SaladStop! In November 2009 and our motto is “Eat Wide Awake”. Simply put we want to change the way people think about their food.
 
Q. What is your background? (restaurants? or you figured it out as you went?)
 
I grew up in the hotel industry as my father spent many years with InterContinental and Shangri-La so I guess that it must be in the blood! We travelled around the world and some of my fondest childhood memories are in the back of a hotel kitchen. I graduated from the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University and continued as a consultant in the hospitality sector. I most recently worked for Kingdom Hotel Investments, spearheading all investment opportunities for the group in China. I moved back to Singapore during the financial crisis and we decided that we want to bring something fresh and healthy to Singapore. No one was presenting salads the way we were.
Q. How many locations do you have?
We have 12 in Singapore and we just opened our second location a few weeks ago in the Philippines at Rockwell and are scheduled to open a few more locations by the end of the year there.
SaladStop!Q. How do you choose a location? 
We choose our locations based on a multitude of factors but most importantly, we need high volume areas with a strong concentration of office buildings. SaladStop! is still mainly a lunch concept and we rely a lot on strong office demand.
 
Q. Will you ever take a sub-par location, if it is in an area you want to be in? or will you wait for the right spot?
 
We generally will never consider a sub-par location but have opened locations in new developments which might take a longer time to mature. These locations take a long-term view but can also give us a first mover advantage. Otherwise, we will wait for the right spot and market conditions.
 
Q. How big is a standard location? What have you learned about location size?
Our standard locations vary between 500 – 800 square feet. We have learned that our locations can be smaller with the support of a centralized kitchen and efficient spacial planning.
 
Q. Does a corner location matter?
 
A corner location is preferrable but visibility, accessibility and traffic are more important. A strong corner location is a bonus but we generally don’t consider this as a criteria.
 
Q. Are malls better? or street level locations?
This varies greatly in Singapore and Manila as malls can be a destination in itself and provide a constant traffic flow while street level locations can provide additional visibility and peak-hour traffic.
Q. At what point did the number of locations change how the business is run? I have been told, 1 or 2 locations is ok, but 3+ requires a different management approach, systems, procedures, etc. What was the tipping point for you?
We learnt that the tipping point is close to 5 locations. The economies of scale at that point bring a number of benefits but a strong infrastructure is required to support the operation. Overheads start to escalate and a strong focus on SOPs, training, technology is required.

SaladStop! Journey

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