SME Spotlight

Quite exciting (for me). This past Wednesday, May 27, we were featured on the SME Spotlight section of The Straits Times. It feels great to see the past few years of work getting recognized.

Let's hope things keep growing!

Read the article and learn more about how Standing Sushi Bar started, what some of the challenges were along the way, and what some of the future plans are.

Facebook Tips for Brands & Businesses

Justin Lee has written a good list of tips for brands and businesses that want to improve their management of a Facebook page.

Tip #3 about adding milestones to the page is kind of interesting.  I feel like people are engaging frequently with businesses in a manner that is more conversational and buddy-buddy rather than viewing a business as something that is just there to provide a product or service.  Adding milestones to a business’s Facebook timeline starts creating a shared history between the business and individual.

Pinterest for the restaurant

I’m back from a week in New Zealand and unsurprisingly the jet lag is wreaking havoc with my sleeping patterns.  I’ve been seeing a lot of updates from Pinterest recently so I figured insomnia is the perfect reason to go explore another one of these social media internet 9.0 communication enhancer people connector type of tools.  And I must say, it’s kind of fun!

Standing Sushi Bar Pinterest

Basically you create a  board (imagine a corkboard) and when you find an interesting photo you “pin” it to your board along with a comment.  It’s an easy way of sharing. When you see other people’s pins you can “re-pin” their pin to your own board.  It’s like re-tweeting someone’s message except this time it’s a picture.

Follow Me on Pinterest

It will be interesting to see how businesses utilize Pinterest.  Still too early to determine whether there will be staying power or if it will just be another fad.  The way I’m planning on using it for Standing Sushi Bar is to showcase restaurant information (food, promotions, etc.) as well as have people learn what our “spirit” is based on the things that I pin.

It’s go time

Marketing and promotion is an area that I haven’t spent much time on. Since the beginning of Standing Sushi Bar (a little over a year ago), I’ve been focused on daily operations and simply learning about the F&B industry. Having the first branch in Raffles Place meant that I didn’t have to do too much outreach – there are so many people in the area that promotions didn’t have to span far.

The 8QSAM branch is in a radically different situation. While I love the Bras Basah neighborhood (I’m a long-time resident), there are lots of people who have no idea this area exists… even though it’s just a couple blocks from City Hall MRT! For the past few years it seemed like a no-man’s land. While it was a central location there was nothing that drew a critical mass of people.

Earlier this year I noticed a lot more activity – the old Catholic High building underwent renovation and has become an arts & dance enclave, the Food for Thought café (hi neighbor!) opened up at 8QSAM, and Bras Basah MRT station began operating. CNNGO talks about the transformation of the area.

I feel SSB at 8Q has opened up as the neighborhood is on the cusp of becoming a destination location.

On the cusp, full of potential, etc. – all great… but potential and the future do not count for nuts when it comes to the present.

Standing Sushi Bar also opened (2 weeks ago) at Marina Bay Link Mall. Great location, again full of potential. When the office towers are complete and everyone has moved in, there are supposed to be more workers there than Suntec City. That’s a huge, captive lunch crowd waiting to be fed good sushi!

But… people are just beginning to move into Marina Bay Financial Centre. Essentially it’s a bunch of empty futuristic-looking glass skyscrapers waiting for the thrum of human activity to commence.

Now that these branches are open, it’s time to shift gears and think about how to spread the word of Standing Sushi Bar. Promote! Promote! Promote!  I have to get into that mindset.

Singapore’s Top 10 Sushi!

Am very happy and excited that Standing Sushi Bar is listed as one of Singapore’s Top 10 Sushi places on HungryGoWhere!


I think this is cool on a variety of fronts. 

The main reason is that it’s a validation of the sushi we serve.  The rice, the fish, the quality of ingredients, and of course the skills of the chefs!  Led by Roy, our head chef, they’re helping me meet my goal of bringing high-quality sushi at affordable prices.  Kudos and a bonus is coming the chefs’ way! :)

SSB is a small sushi shop in Raffles Place – another Japanese restaurant in a sea of sushi & sashimi.   Japanese food is incredibly popular in Singapore and one can find a Japanese menu on almost every block.  To go from being an unknown restaurant six months ago to being listed alongside Singapore’s mainstay sushi bars is, well, an awesome feeling.

I’ve had a user account with Hungrygowhere since their inception.  Chipped in reviews on restaurants around my neighborhood and places that drove me to give praise or warning to others.  The internet is rife with food bloggers, food articles, reviews, etc. and it’s great to have a portal that has enough critical mass to gauge community sentiment toward a restaurant.  It’s interesting to now have the perspective of a restaurant owner being reviewed as well as a diner who contributes reviews.  Certainly an open community review system like HGW has its drawbacks (some of which I have ideas on how can be ameliorated – I should send in feedback!) but overall having an organized space for a collection of mass opinions is a positive!

In Summary: YAY!  Standing Sushi Bar is one of Singapore’s Top 10 sushi bars!

Vote for your favorite Singapore sushi bar at Hungrygowhere!

Too much sitting is bad

Frequently customers come by the restaurant during lunch and even though the restaurant is full of people standing (no chairs until after 2:30 pm), they’ll ask whether they can get a seat. Our standard response is that we place the chairs out after 2:30 pm as during the Raffles Place lunch rush, in order to accommodate as many people as we can, we don’t have chairs.  (Let’s ignore the fact that the name of the restaurant is Standing Sushi Bar).  Some of these customers will try standing and eating, other folks will look aghast that we have no chairs and then storm out in a huff… to go stand and wait in line at another restaurant so they can get a seat.

Personally I find standing and eating to be comfortable. I think that’s one of the reasons why I was enamored with the standing sushi bars that I ate at in Japan. Couple that with handmade sushi, a variety of fresh fish, and the casual ambience of a neighborhood sushi bar and I think one gets a reflection of what SSB is here in Singapore as well.  I also feel that in Raffles Place, the office crowd are spending their morning and afternoon… basically their whole day… sitting at a desk. Don’t folks get restless? Don’t they want to stretch?

Yesterday I read an article about how too much sitting is bad.

The health benefits of pulse-quickening physical activity are beyond dispute - it helps ward off cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, among other problems.

But recent scientific findings also suggest that prolonged bouts of immobility while resting on one's rear end may be independently linked to these same conditions.

Just for kicks I decided to enlarge the article and place it at the front of the restaurant.  Perhaps it will help the folks who are averse to standing and eating to think twice about their health!

Too much sitting is bad

What to do with all that space?

I wish I was talking about the interior of the restaurant.  Instead, I’m referring to the construction hoarding that is covering the front of the shop while renovation goes on inside.


As a temporary effort, I printed out posters of the logo, the website, and the twitter address for Standing Sushi Bar.  There’s still so much white space though!

Since the renovation will be taking a few weeks, it would be good to increase the profile of the restaurant and get key messages out to potential customers.  There is a lot of foot traffic in that hallway, and most importantly, there are many sushi-eaters.  Why are there sushi-eaters? Because Sakae Sushi, one of the few Raffles Place sushi joints, is diagonally across the hall from me.

Every day a line forms at Sakae… and while I don’t intend to compete directly with them, they are the primary competitor in the area.

While people wait to enter Sakae, I can use the construction hoarding to make them aware of Standing Sushi Bar and what my restaurant will offer.

To keep the wall ‘fresh’ I’m changing the posters every couple of days.  Sushi haikus, trivia, quotes, and other writings to entertain the passer-bys.

Haha, and easy blog content – I’ll post the sushi haikus!

Just one word… Plastics

Today I met with a supplier from CTL Solutions PTE Ltd. 

Their tagline: “For all your alternative packaging needs.”

It was an informative meeting.  I looked through a few samples, discussed other items they could create, and talked about the importance of finding proper take-away / carry-out packaging.

I learned a lot about plastic and paper packaging today.  Granted my knowledge on the subject was near zero prior to this meeting, but who would have expected such an interesting coffee session?

Most of the take-away sushi containers I’ve seen are flimsy and crumple when you squeeze too hard.  I worry that unless the container is stapled the food will spill while I carry it home.  That experience affects my impression of the whole restaurant.

That led me to think about how Standing Sushi Bar will approach packaging:

  • Thick, solid material – no flimsiness!  If people want to hand-carry it, stuff it in a bag, or knock it around I want to ensure that the contents don’t spill out.
  • Vehicle for awareness – the logo should be on the box and on the bag.  Perhaps one day people will prize my logoed bags like they do a purse that says Gucci on it.
  • Clear top, colored bottom – I’ve decided against paper containers because you can’t see the contents. With a clear plastic top you can see the type of sushi inside.  It’s important that people can look at the pre-packaged take-away sushi and feel confident that it is high-quality and value-for-money.  With a dark green or black bottom, that will contrast nicely with the color of the fish and rice regardless what surface the container is put on.

I hadn’t thought about the bags we would need to provide to take-away customers until today’s discussion with the CTL rep.  I hope we have many repeat customers; I am toying with providing linen bags for frequent diners and providing a discount on the food when they reuse the bag on subsequent visits. While producing the bags might be costly, they are eco-friendly, the customer can re-use them (not just for sushi), they look nice, and the bags would be seen enough to increase brand awareness.

Never think about packaging before?  Try it now and see if we’ve missed anything major on how it relates to the restaurant!

Oh, golden rule – the packaging shouldn’t cost more than the food. :)  (The representative kept emphasizing this after I went off on a tangent thinking of what kind of custom-design packaging I could create).


Mr. McGuire: There's a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?
Ben: Yes I will.
Mr. McGuire: Shh! Enough said. That's a deal.