Haji Lane, in recent years, has always been a place to go for ruralists and urbanites alike and is one of the most photographed streets of Singapore. This narrow lane is filled with quirky shophouses ranging from vintage boutiques, Zakka stores to barber shops.
Stroll down the lane (as if you are filming a music video), and you will definitely see a mural depicting a Sikh man with a turban, drinking a cup of chai. And that’s The Singapura Club. The bistro with the “throw-back” concept of Old Singapura, fitting perfectly in the heritage- rich Kampong Glam neighbourhood.
Besides The Singapura Club at Haji Lane, Jerry Singh, the restaurateur owns The Tiong Bahru Club Singapura and an upcoming branch at Bali Lane. Here are his thoughts on building The Singapura Club brand in the local Food & Beverage (F&B) scene.
A Commercial Lawyer By Training, But F&B And Brand Value Creation Is His Passion
I used to work across industries and most recently for the world’s largest mining company prior to setting up my first venture namely Chaiholics in 2011.
Through many years of patronising eateries, travelling and realising a ‘throw-back’ concept of old Singapura was missing in the F&B scene here. Hence the concept of The Singapura Club was born. The mission is to create a renaissance of an old Singapura Club, similar to the Raffles Hotel Long Bar. However, unlike the Long Bar, more people can access the Singapura Club. The ultimate goal for The Singapura Club is to establish a local and global footprint, becoming one of the most successful local F&B brands.
The Birth And The Journey Of The Singapura Club Thus Far
The journey has been overwhelming and humbling at the same time. Since opening our doors at Tiong Bahru in 2014, we have created a ‘cult-like’ following of customers from all walks of life, patronising our truly local “club”, brand offering and even actively marketing us on social media in their respective ways. This has given us further confidence to expand and open our doors at the exciting Haji Lane area (and soon Bali Lane) which is laced with many established brands and concepts too. We have also learnt as we developed and are on a continuous self-improvement journey.
Our customers are from all walks of life….locals, expats, tourists, young and old. It very much befits our ‘a Club for all’ mission.
Despite Intense Competition, We Have Found Our Value Proposition
Our key differentiators are the following: 1. Our distinct bygone era concept of old Singapura which is non-existent in the entire Kampong Glam/Arab Street and Tiong Bahru area. 2. Our melting pot Pan Asian cuisine served by great chefs. 3. Our quality beverages, the wonderful array of teas from Chaiholics and the brand ambassadors that serve customers from all walks of life.
As a founder, my hands-on 1 team approach, passion and a strong sense of operating discipline to achieve benchmark standards have helped me to set myself apart from the competitors. In addition, brand and relationship building are also another important aspect that should not be overlooked.
How Do You Protect Your Brand From Your Competitors?
Competitors for both locations are established brand names with different offerings from us. We stay focused on our concept, doing simple things perfectly to suit the palates of our customers. We do not aim to provide the ‘run of the mill’ type of offering.
Besides, I plan to grow the customer base through strategic expansion in key locations, innovative offering to stay ahead of the curve, and active marketing via various social platforms and B2B channels.
In addition to our current marketing strategies, we are also working very closely with different agencies. By virtue of our unique concept at both Tiong Bahru and Haji Lane, we are working with the Singapore Tourism Board, movie production companies, an international chain of 5-star hotels and credit card merchants to promote The Singapura Club as a destination place for tourists and patrons from all walks of life.
Your Team And Your Expansion Plan
We have a diverse team of individuals where culture, experience and races band us together to be Brand Ambassadors of The Singapura Club. The corporate structure consists of a Finance and Brand Manager with many years of industry experience, while the Operations is helmed by a very experienced Restaurant Manager who is managing the bar and front of house team. We also have a youthful and vibrant team to blend into the culture.
For expansion plans, we are looking to form an independent Board of Directors to provide impartiality, strategic thought leadership and credibility to the company as we grow the brand even further. We will also look into strategic fundraising, which will enable inorganic growth through capital investment. It will also open doors to potential equity or industry partners to come on board to champion the brand story further and stronger.
Tell Us More About Yourself
Well, I used to drive my classic cars around in my spare time and travel. Nowadays, if I’m not working 7 days a week, I will spend all my spare time checking out other concepts and ideas.