Restaurant Executive: Ben Lee, CEO of Sarnies

In 2015 we started doing interviews with restaurant, retail and BPO entrepreneurs to learn more about their businesses, how they make decisions and what’s next for them. These interviews have been quite a success and we plan to continue them into 2016.

First up this year is Ben Lee, the CEO of Sarnies.

“Started a few years ago by Aussie Ben Lee, Sarnies is a pumpin’ little café located in the bustling CBD. Here at Sarnies, we are passionate about our products and their quality. Grass fed beef; chicken free from hormones and antibiotics; bacon cured in-house – all so that you’re guaranteed a fantastic meal every time.

‘Sarnies’ may be slang for sandwich, but we’re much more than that. We serve up hearty breakfasts; gourmet sandwiches; massive salads, homemade bakery treats and a damn good cuppa.” (sarniescafe.com)

Sarnies Coffee

1. Where are you from and what brought you Singapore?
I am originally from Australia and was brought here via a job in my previous life working in a bank.

2. How many restaurants do you currently run?
Four in Singapore with four soon to be opened in Malaysia and one soon to be opened in Thailand.

3. Which one was the first?
Sarnies Cafe on Telok Ayer Street (136 Telok Ayer Street Singapore 068601)

4. What do you like about doing business in Singapore?
For me its a good mix of familiarity and new opportunities to discover. It has been a great entry into Asia for us.

5. What are the challenges for doing business in Singapore?
The tightest labour market in all of history.

6. What advice would you give a business person moving into Singapore, that you wish you knew before moving to the country?
Given it’s the lowest barrier to entry of any city in Asia, competition is fierce in the restaurant game. There’s a lot of good stuff here.

7. How do you choose locations for your businesses?
We go for busy working areas where people don’t have to move very far to get their coffee. And the smaller the footprint the better to keep the rental low.

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16 Entrepreneur Interviews for you to Learn How To Do Business in S.E. Asia

southeast asia entrepreneur advice

BPO

BPO Executive: Stefan Vermeulen, CEO of D&V Philippines

Executive Interview: Horst von Wendorff from VKWInc.com

Executive Interview: Nicholas Sinclair, President of the Outsourced Accountant

Certified Profile: Clare Matchett, ServiceSeeking Manila

Executive Interview: Simon Meers, Managing Director, Wint & Kidd Inc (Philippines)

Restaurant

Restaurant Executive: Karla Campos, CEO of Dell’s Foodhall

Restaurant / Retail Executive: Claudine Chan-Cobankiat, Kichitora of Tokyo and Qrius

Executive Interview: Russell Yu, IKI Concepts – a Singapore restauranteur talks about bringing his brands into the Philippines and is unique take on attracting talent.

Restaurant Executive: Adrien Desbaillets, President SaladStop! – a Singapore chain talks about opening in the Philippines and his restaurant expansion.

Restaurant Executive: Andrew Masigan, The Advent Manila Hospitality Group – a Philippine restauranteur talks about his experience growing restaurants in Manila.

Carlo Buenaflor, the CEO of Bigg’s, Inc. Carlo operates 15 restaurants in the Bicol area of the Philippines and is the honorary consul of Spain in the Bicol Region of the Philippines.

Retail

Joey Qua, CEO, Collezione-c2.com with 25 branches nationwide and a growing restaurant business.

Eileen Grey, The Picture Company a 9 location retail chain in the Philippines

General

Executive Interview: Rob Nixon, CEO & Founder of PANALITIX

Executive Interview: Mike O’Hagan of Mike’s Manila Tours

David Elefant: Doing Business in the Philippines

Carlos Celdran on the Philippine Business Environment

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BPO Executive: Stefan Vermeulen, CEO of D&V Philippines

We continue to profile business owners in the Philippines from all walks of life. From locals to foreigner across the restaurant, retail and business process outsourcing (BPO) industries, each sharing their experience and feedback of operating in the archipelago.

Stefan VermeulenToday, we bring you accounting and payroll BPO executive Stefan Vermeulen, CEO of D&V Philippines.

1. Where are you from and what brought you to the Philippines?
I am born and raised in Nijmegen, a beautiful 2,000 (!) year old small city in the east of the Netherlands, right at the German border. As an internal auditor for Sara Lee in 2000 I was sent to the Philippines to audit the local Sara Lee subsidiaries. I worked on this assignment together with an auditor from EY who 2 years later became my wife. Early 2003 we subsequently moved to the Netherlands. In 2011 we decided to move to Manila because of the business opportunities and to set up D&V Philippines.

2. What does D&V Philippines do? 
D&V Philippines is a professional services firm specializing in finance and accounting. Our clients are based in Australia (75%), USA (15%), the UK (5%) and various other countries (Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Hong Kong, New Zealand). In addition we have a unit focusing on local Philippine based clients.DV-Philippines-logo-new

3. Who is your ideal client?
For our international business either a CFO looking to outsource part of the finance and accounting function, an accounting firm looking for an extension of their practice in the Philippines, or an entrepreneur seeking to outsource bookkeeping and accounting tasks.

For our local business, foreigners who want to incorporate and start a business in the Philippines. We serve as their gateway to the Philippines.

4. What common challenges do foreigners come across operating in the Philippines
Mainly cultural differences. In my opinion culture trumps everything so it is really important to understand the culture before you start operating in the Philippines.

5. What services do you provide?
Everything you would expect from an accountant or a bookkeeper. Day-to-day bookkeeping like accounts payable/receivable processing, bank reconciliations, expense report processing and payroll processing and the like, but also higher end services like monthly financial close, monthly reporting, management accounting, financial analysis, business analysis etc. In addition various compliance tasks for our target markets Australia, UK and USA. Our niche is finance and accounting so everything within that realm.

Our local unit also includes setting up a corporation or branch, advice on tax incentives and all (annual and payroll) compliance, except statutory audit.

6. What advice would you give an entrepreneur moving into the Philippines, that you wish you knew before moving to the country?
Understand the culture first prior to engaging and starting a business. Invest time to visit and learn about the country.

7. What do your clients like about using PayrollHero?
Cloud based and technology driven product. Easy to use.

8. What do you read to keep yourself up to date with your industry and the clients you are serving?
Professional literature in the field of finance, controlling and accounting.

9. How do you see your industry changing over the next few years?
The job of a bookkeeper will disappear. Manual data-entry, e.g. accounts payable and expense report processing, will be completely automated. The technology is already available in the cloud. As a result it is possible for startups, for instance, to automate all transaction processing from day one.

10. Any other tips for entrepreneurs opening up in the Philippines?
Philippines is a fantastic and great country with a huge amount of talented people…. I suggest that they visit, explore and take time to get to know the culture.

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Restaurant Executive: Karla Campos, CEO of Dell’s Foodhall

As we continue our series of interviews with successful restaurant and retail executives from Singapore and the Philippines I’m pleased to introduce Karla Campos from Dell’s Foodhall in the Philippines.  Karla was kind enough to share some of her experience about running a multi-location restaurant chain in the Philippines. 

karla campos dells foothallYou are the CEO of Dell’s Foodhall, can you tell us a bit more about the brand? 
We are a cafeteria chain with multiple locations all over Metro Manila, providing quality, home-style cooking to the country’s workforce, in a cool and hip atmosphere. While one would find most food chains inside malls, you will find Dell’s Foodhall in office buildings where we cater, primarily, to people at work — young professionals, executives, the BPOs and call center agents. Most of our locations are open 24 hours a day, 6 days a week.

Sounds exciting, can you tell us a bit more about how the brand came about, what you did to understand your customers needs, etc?
People often ask me, “Why Dell’s?” or “Are you Dell?” Uhm.. No. Haha! It’s actually my mom’s name, which is Adelfa.

I took over my mom’s single proprietorship business – then known as Dell’s Canteen & Catering Service, which made it big back in the 70’s and 80’s, catering to institutional accounts. By the time I took over the business in 1996, I had imagined something different.

After working and living in New York, where I dined in the office cafeteria every single day and witnessed how everything was nicely executed — I found myself not growing tired of dining in the office cafeteria since the food and service was great. This to me, was an eye opener. Then I came home and made my rounds in the office cafeterias here and discovered that we were behind — that there was something lacking in terms of the general approach and expectations. The cafeterias here were quite “old school” and sloppy, to be honest. So, I thought of creating something that was more upbeat, and probably more exciting in this segment of the food industry, with a desire to fill in the gap. I tried to duplicate the dining experience I had in New York, and didn’t realize I hit a home run. Now the general office crowd seems to know who we are and patronize us, Mondays thru Fridays. We have come to know who they are, the kind of food selections they are looking for, and the price points they are comfortable with.

dells foodhall philippinesI didn’t change the name anymore since it was a bit late in the game, given that we had already become quite popular with our customers. So instead, we re-branded by naming it Dell’s Foodhall — Foodhall being 1 word, the same way they have it in Sydney, Bangkok, London etc. Then we just sort of modernized the logo to make it more acceptable and recognizable within our target market.

You operate in the Philippines, what challenges come with that? what benefits?
Well, the reality is that our country is still pretty much “third world”. The internet is slow, public transportation needs a lot of work, and don’t even get me started on the traffic situation… Bottom line is, we still have a long ways to go.

On the other hand, as a business owner, I believe I am in a great position to contribute to society, to be a part of the nation building process and simply help make things better. We have hundreds of people in our payroll and as the CEO, I take this responsibility very seriously. Running a business or your own company allows you to create jobs and opportunities for other people. There is the multiplier effect, that every growing economy desperately needs. We are able to create more wealth to go around and have a positive impact in the lives, not only of our employees, but also that of our suppliers, while keeping Manila’s work force — our customers, happy and well fed.

What technology do you use in your businesses? 
We use POS, accounting systems that generally address the needs of our sales, inventory and payroll. We try to use systems that are more efficient, easy to understand and manage to be able to properly monitor the business flow.

How do you decide on a location? (mall? street level? stand alone business?)
We study the location by taking into account the general population in the area, the foot traffic, accessibility, and of course, rental rates.

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?
I guess you grow to a certain size, get to a certain level and realize you can’t do everything by yourself anymore. That the “mom and pop” approach is no longer going to cut it. Too many things are happening at the same time — the stakes are higher, your market reach is wider, the public is now aware of your presence — including your competitors. As the leader of our organization, I had to change my management style or the business was not going to survive. In order for us to create the best all around product and be able to compete, I had to read up, studied and observed how other successful organizations conducted business, and was inspired at the thought of what we could become.

I remember going to the opening day of a new location and seeing the long lines.. And then it hit me — we had a brand that the public — at least our target market – was now very familiar with and were patronizing. That same week, I visited a food expo, gave out my business card to every potential supplier, and was surprised they knew exactly who we were and were very excited to do business with us. At that point, it became clear to me that Dell’s Foodhall had a name and reputation to protect, and that it was time to shift into high gear. It was time to professionalize. And so, I started hiring professionals to run our company. Now I have an executive committee, a team of experts, who help me in running and monitoring all areas of the business. It is still a lot of work, but I am not complaining.

What is next for Dell’s Foodhall?
We will continue to expand and open in new locations. As the owner, I am extremely pleased and grateful with what we’ve achieved, thus far, and will only persist in finding new ways of improving our systems and the quality of our food products and services. What can I say — it’s a never ending process. We are always a work in progress.

anything else to add?
To survive in the food business, one must be ready for the hard work that comes with it. You need to be ready to put in the hours and monitor every stage of the process very closely and diligently. You can make a lot of money here — but you can also lose a lot of money.

I always tell people who ask me about the food business that it is far from glamorous and that it is a very demanding industry. You deal with all kinds of people every day. I sometimes start the day meeting with a supplier from whom we order tons of meat items from, trying to agree on a locked in price and then end the day meeting with the a building owner whose rent I am also trying to negotiate — not to mention the managers who go in and out of my office for decisions that need to be made. It is a very tedious, very detail oriented business, with lots of moving pieces. Then again, it is also very rewarding and quite fulfilling. As in any business, you just have to stay the course, stay committed and passionate — as you grow in wisdom as an entrepreneur and as a human being. Be prepared to come to work every single day. I tell you, nothing comes easy in this business. Still, I cannot imagine doing anything else.

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Restaurant / Retail Executive: Claudine Chan-Cobankiat, Kichitora of Tokyo and Qrius

Introducing Claudine Chan-Cobankiat, Managing Director of Kichitora of Tokyo a 3 location restaurant chain as well as Qrius a small retail chain in the Philippines.

claudine chan1. You are in both, restaurants and retail – can you tell us a bit more about them? 
Yes, we have Kichitora of Tokyo – a ramen chain from Japan with 3 branches at the 2F SM Megamall Atrium, 2F Glorietta 5 and 4F Bonifacio Central Square. Our ramens are differentiated from all competitors because we use pure chicken broth – it not only tastes good but is also good for your health. We also just recently opened our one-off concept called Hajime at the G/F Edades Tower, Rockwell, which focuses on crossover cuisine.
For retail, I manage a small retail store called Qrius. It started as a fun project for me and my sister, Charlene, who now lives in New York. The concept involves sourcing products that we use everyday that comes with added functionality. For example, we are the distributors of Zing Anything, a company that creates water bottles with the added functionality of infusing your water with fruits and herbs. We have 2 locations at the 3F Powerplant Mall, and 4F SM Mega Fashion Hall.

2. When it comes to choosing locations, how do you do it?  (mall? street level? foot traffic? what do you think about?)
We generally choose based on current mall success, meaning there is established foot traffic. Street level is usually better but if upper floors have a good enough attraction and easy access, we consider it too (for example, cinema levels). Another important consideration is access to parking and access during rain.

Kitchitora Manila
3. 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’ve learned to wait for the right spot unless it’s a ridiculously good deal.

4. At what point did the number of stores change how the business is run? I have been told, 1 or 2 stores is ok, but 3+ requires a different management approach, systems, procedures, etc. What was the tipping point?
Yes, you are right. 3 stores was the tipping point for Kichitora as well. Specifically, we had to implement more strict reporting systems. We had to create quality controls teams and overall field operations managers to make sure everything is how it should be and management is informed.

5. What challenges do you have operating retail business in the Philippines?
To us, it’s always been with manpower and inventory. There are many systems that can minimize human error or theft, but as the saying goes, if there’s a will, there’s a way. As with any business, having the right team to achieve your goal is essential.

6. How do you come up with names for your stores?
It has always been based on inspiration or we just think of something that defines the brand in one word.

7. From an HR point of view, what do you do that is unique when it comes to hiring, retaining and growing your workforce?
Usually in our industry, it is considered normal for work to simply be a stepping stone for the staff towards other opportunities. At our companies, we try our best to instill a sense of home and growth as best we can. In short, if you are good, we want to keep you.

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Retail Executive: Joey Qua, CEO, Collezione-c2.com

Introducing Joey Qua, CEO, Collezione-c2.com with 25 branches nationwide and a growing restaurant business.

Joey V. Qua1. Can you tell us more about your background in retail?  
We started Collezione C2 15 years ago with one branch in Festival Mall Alabang. Collezione C2 is a second generation brand that I started back in 2000 after coming back from my studies and work in the U.S.

The original Collezione (C1) was established by my father 43 years ago (est. 1972) when he saw the need to develop a local label (of polo shirts) in order fulfil the needs of the Philippine market that had a severe shortage in supply of quality clothing during that time due to heightened import and travel restrictions because of Martial Law.

Today, Collezione C2 has grown to 25 branches nationwide. It exists side by side with the mother brand Collezione (C1) which is the more classic and conservative label, designed to cater to a more mature set of customers and sold in department stores only – while on the other hand, Collezione C2 which is the more hip and modern label, caters to the younger segment of the market and is sold only in free standing stores in the different malls around the country.

noy noy2. Your clothes are pretty famous, even the President wears them, how did that come about?

Collezione C2’s design DNA is based on three tenets: Fashion, Arts and Nationalism….. and because we were able to create a very unique and iconic polo shirt with the Philippine map design back in 2008, a lot of Filipinos embraced the design concept and felt a deep sense of patriotism and love of country along with it. Being the President of the Philippines, President Noynoy shares the same deep love and patriotism for our nation just like our brand, and he decided to start wearing our shirts during less formal occasions. And of course, we are very happy, honored and grateful to him for doing so – he shares the same passion for love of country as we do.

3. How many retail stores do you have? 
Collezione C2 currently has 25 free standing stores in the different malls nationwide.

Collezione-c2.com4. How do you decide on a location? (mall, street level, etc)
As many retail experts would say: Location, Location, Location is the key to the success of a store….. Which I strongly believe in – unfortunately, there is so much competition in today’s retail landscape that a retailer will just have to make do with what is available and make certain compromises and adjustments in order to make the store location work – even if it is far from being in a prime location. We have a team in our organization that scouts the area of the given space at different times of the day and of the week, and we also study the different retail brands beside and across from the location being offered to us, we make our own internal calculations if the foot traffic and retail sales from the different stores around the site reconciles. And if the numbers look good and promising, then we sign on the dotted line with our retail partners, which are the mall operators. At the end of the day, we want to establish a ‘win-win’ formula between us retailers and the mall operators because at the end of the day, our success is their success as well, and vice versa.

5. At what point did the number of locations change how the business is run? 
For us, after 12 to 15 branches, we had to seriously consider re-organizing the company and adding more departments to address the growth of the business. For one, we had to switch our POS system at the frontend and the software systems at the backend to accommodate a bigger volume of sales and inventory. Moreover, we also had to upgrade our people in terms of job experience, skill-set quality, and manpower requirements. We simply outgrew the system at our 12thto 15th branch.

Collezione-c2.com6. What was the tipping point for you?
When you reach a certain sales volume, and your backend is not equipped to handle it, then disorganization and inefficiency will surface in your day-to-day operations and chaos will likely ensue – so before that even happens, you should have the foresight to have your backend ready to address the rise in demand of the business.

7. What does the ASEAN integration mean for your business?  
2 things, opportunity and competition – you just have to step up to the plate and take your business to the next level or you will end up irrelevant if you do not innovate fast enough to meet the demands of a more intense competitive environment.

8. What are the benefits of operating in the Philippines? downsides?
For one, we are experiencing a growth in the economy and population…. there is a growing middle-class which means disposable income is on the rise, which gives retailers the opportunity to serve deeper pockets. The downside is that the barriers to entry for the retail sector is being lifted at an accelerated pace right now – there are just so many retail brands out there, whether global or regional, that have been aggressively coming here and expanding in our shores which make the local brands like us have to deal with a plethora of competition for both market share and retail space.

9. You are involved in restaurants now, how did that come about?
It’s always good to spread your investments or business interests in different sectors or industries, especially now that the competition is getting stiffer and stiffer in retail…… diversifying and spreading the risk is more like it.

9. What is different from the restaurant business to the retail business in the Philippines?
I believe it’s somewhat the same….. both businesses involve people management, products and services. But of course the differences will be in the creative concept and business model.

10. Do you think about locations differently for restaurants?  
We go about it the same way, it’s just that the criteria that we set is different for clothing retail than for the restaurant business. If it meets certain criteria then we proceed with the build.

11. What is next for you in your retail/restaurant businesses? 
For clothing retail, we are more discerning and selective with our expansion plans since we are at 25 stores already, for the restaurant business, we are much more aggressive because we have a few stores open and a couple in the pipeline and we feel that there is more room for growth in this sector.

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Restaurant Executive: Carlo Buenaflor, CEO Bigg’s, Inc.

Introducing Carlo Buenaflor, the CEO of Bigg’s, Inc. Carlo operates 15 restaurants in the Bicol area of the Philippines and is the honorary consul of Spain in the Bicol Region of the Philippines.

We took a moment to chat with Carlo about operating his restaurants in a province of the Philippines and where he sees his brand going next.

Carlo Buenaflor, the CEO of Bigg's, Inc.1. You are the CEO of Bigg’s and ¿Que Pasa? – can you tell me a bit more about each brand?
Yes, we have 14 Bigg’s Diner in different locations throughout Southern Luzon and a new brand called ¿Que Pasa? with 1 outlet located in Naga City. Bigg’s Diner is a 31 year old brand that serves fried chicken, burgers and several dishes of Filipino and American comfort food. ¿Que Pasa? serves Bicolano Colonial Cuisine which is a mix of Bicolano and Spanish flavors. Although it’s only a few months old, it is already creating waves in social media because of its fresh take on barbecue.

que pasa restaurant philippines2. ¿Que Pasa? – sounds exciting, can you tell us a bit more about how the brand came about, what you did to understand your communities needs, etc?
We realized that the millennial market is constantly looking for something new where they have control over their dining experience. At ¿Que Pasa?, they can choose their meat, sidings and rice options and be in a dining environment that celebrates colonial art and history. The location of ¿Que Pasa? is in a historical district of Naga where a well preserved century old archway is part of the restaurant architecture. ¿Que Pasa? has made Spanish cuisine accessible to the millennial market and has made it cool.

3. You operate your restaurants in a province of the Philippines (not a large city), what challenges come with that?
The challenges with operating multiple stores in the province are logistical and operations support. Our furthest store from our commissary is 10 hours away. There are a lot opportunities in the province because big brands normally neglect it which leaves a vacuum. Visiting and monitoring store operations in this kind of set up is tough.

4. What technology do you use in your businesses? 
We have POS systems installed in all our stores but unfortunately they are not linked to our head office yet. We don’t have any loyalty system in place yet but it is a big consideration as we move forward.

que pasa bicol5. How do you decide on a location? (mall? street level? stand alone business?)
There is no rule of thumb for locations. This process remains to be the most challenging as we decide to grow. Malls don’t assure the business success they once gave. The market is constantly shifting and we have to be ahead of that. The cost to build a store is very expensive so we can’t afford poorly chosen sites. The best indicator for successful locations is the presence of our industry peers.

6. 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?
Absolutely, I think anyone can run a successful 1 restaurant operation. 2 may be stretching it without a solid system and support groups in place. 3 would definitely be the tipping point. A different structure, mindset and management approach is certainly needed for a multiple outlet set up. Product, service quality and consistency become very challenging at this point. Only a few restaurant chains succeed beyond this critical point.

7. What is next for Biggs and Que Pasa?
Growth. We would like to see ¿Que Pasa? in every city in the Philippines.

8. anything else to add?
As a brand grows, the common mistake of an entrepreneur is that they get too engrossed with fixing the system and playing catch up with the growing demands of a growing business that they lose sight of the future of the business which should be their primary responsibility. Entrepreneurs should invest in good systems ahead of the growth curve of their business. A smart investment in a good inventory, distribution, accounting and payroll system will go a long way and save you a lot of money and time.

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The 8th Annual Proactive Accountants Conference: 12 to 16 July in Bali!

We recently spoke to Rob Nixon about his software business: Panalitix. It is a software as a service that provides accounting data from small businesses to accountants around the world.

Panalitix has an exciting event coming up that accountants should definitely catch. They are hosting their 8th Annual Proactive Accountants Conference between 12th and 16th of July. The conference will be in Bali, Indonesia. Accountants will get a chance to meet their colleagues, hear some great speakers and attend networking events (and of course, spend time in BALI!).

Jack Daly, will be the keynote speaker. Among other speakers, the conference will feature Keith Abraham, creator of Living with Passion, Daniel Priestley from the program Key Person of Influence, Tamara Trentain, digital marketing expert and Karen Abramson – CEO Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting.

Make sure to catch the conference in Bali! 375 accountants have already signed up for the event here.

To know more about outsourcing in the Philippines, you can read our blogposts featuring BPOs like VKW Inc, the Outsourced Accountant and Wint & Kidd. You can check out our executive interview section for all our interviews. You can also read our blog post on doing business in the Philippines, if you are looking for more information about BPOs in the country.

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Celebrity Interview: Rocco Nacino, Actor

Editors Note: Maita Ocampo, Business Development at PayrollHero contributes to this blog on and off, this week, she did an interview with Rocco Nacino.

Rocco Nacino, Actor

“Rocco Nacino is a Filipino actor and registered nurse who rose to fame and gained media attention for joining on the fifth season of StarStruck, a Philippine reality show broadcast on GMA Network. He was the Second Prince of StarStruck. (wikipedia)”

1. What do you love about living in the Philippines?

Growing up in Singapore, being with my family and relatives has always been important to me. Life in Singapore was great, yes, but it wasn’t as great as spending Sundays with your loved ones and enjoying our grandma’s cooking. So it’s definitely being with your family is what I love about living in the Philippines.

2. What are your top 5 favourite restaurants and why?
Top 5? That will be hard to answer, because I’m a foodie and I would eat anything! Haha but taste-wise would be our Carinderias, I know everyone would relate to that. Turo-turo is the best! Haha food from Todd English is great also. To enjoy a unique experience, Van Gogh Is Bipolar is where me and my girlfriend love to go. Japanese would be Keizo in Burgos Circle and everything foie gras would be the best at Rambla in the Fort. I can go on and on guys. Haha.

3. You used to live in Singapore, what Singapore restaurant/s do you miss and would like to see in the Philippines?
Many people visit Singapore for their hawker centers, and it’s hard to come up with dishes as good as theirs. I’ve tried many Singaporean restaurants here but have failed my standards for the authentic taste. Chicken rice from Singapore’s hawker centers are the best and I’d love them to spread their recipes or restaurants here!!

4. What is your favourite Philippine restaurant brand that should expand overseas?
Hmmm, Mang Inasal?? I’d love people from other countries to taste our chicken inasal with its chicken oil!! That’ll be something different for them!

Rocco Nacino, Actor

5. Describe your most memorable dining experience
Most memorable would be having a 3 course meal with wine at the Eiffel Tower with Lovi, hearing that sweet “yes” from her on top of the Eiffel Tower then straight to a river cruise in the Siene River. 🙂

6. If you were to open a restaurant, what kind would it be and why?
It would probably be one for the masses, a chill place with good food, and street food, and lots of alcohol. Haha!! A place that everyone can get together and enjoy drinks and have fun!

7. What is your favourite comfort food?
Favorite comfort food would be chicken wings, any type of chicken wings.. Crispy, buffalo… Etc. now I’m hungry!!!

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How do I open a restaurant in Singapore? Presenting the PayrollHero Knowledge Kit!

The PayrollHero blog aims to be the knowledge repository for any restaurant owner or retailer in Southeast Asia. We have built our database with things you need to know while doing business in Singapore.

With that in mind, we have been working on a little project. Presenting the PayrollHero Knowledge Kit!

screen shot sg

Download now… Free!
This starter kit was put together to give you high level information about Singapore, share some thoughts from restaurant owners, and present relevant statistics from our market research.

The information here includes research that will help you open a restaurant in Singapore or expand into the country.

  • We talk about what CPF contributions are with information about the different Ethnic Funds that require contributions.The pages are linked to relevant tax forms and websites that offer more detailed information if you want it.
  • There is an industry overview and analysis on the latest consumption trends in the country. We give you a salary table to refer to for your Human Resources (HR) team in Singapore.
  • We also give you practical write-ups on how to get an import license, food hygiene requirements and the best internet service provider for your restaurants.

But we don’t want to give you simple hard facts that you could just Google anyway. The Knowledge Kit has a wealth of information in the form of personal stories and experiences in these countries. We interviewed the president of SaladStop!, Mr. Adrien Desbaillets. He gave advice on how he chooses locations in Singapore among other practical nuggets of information. We see it as a way to help the community because there is no better way to learn than from people who have gone through the same roadblocks as your are facing right now.

We hope this information is useful to you. We would love to hear back from you with what you think about the Knowledge Kit, how we can make things better and how you use this Kit for your own research into the restaurant industry.

Lastly, we are releasing more of these for the retail industry. Watch out for more information about these industries and countries. We have also created a Knowledge Kit for the Philippines.

So go ahead and click on the image above to access the Knowledge Kit. Let us know what you think. And good luck with your new business!

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