We opened some doors

A few more months have flown by and it's brought a raft of openings for us! For our Japanese-influenced salad bar, Shinkansen, we opened in two more locations: United Square in Novena and 100 AM mall in Tanjong Pagar. Since Shinkansen is a new concept for us, I felt that the faster we could put it in front of people, the quicker we would gain market recognition. The salad and healthy food area is a tough battleground though! I need to be clearer with what Shinkansen offers (create-your-own salad, rice, quinoa, or soba bowls using a mixture of Japanese and Western ingredients).

Japanese salad bar Shinkansen at 100 AM in Singapore's Tanjong Pagar. Additional locations in Raffles Place and Novena.

On October 13 we also opened another branch of Standing Sushi Bar. It's located at Income @ Raffles, which is the building formerly known as Hitachi Tower. I suppose one could view it as a return to Raffles Place as the first branch of Standing Sushi Bar was at One Raffles Place (formerly known as OUB Centre... I guess with all the development there's lots of 'formerly known' places). The new SSB is located at:

16 Collyer Quay
02-02 Income at Raffles
Singapore 049318

It's the first time I've used a designer for Standing Sushi Bar, and it definitely looks better than the other branches. I suppose my background in information technology and Microsoft Excel didn't translate into gorgeous restaurants! So it's definitely great that Wynk Collaborative applied their design chops to SSB. (See their site for more photos of the new Standing Sushi Bar).

Standing Sushi Bar at Income at Raffles. Located right by Raffles Place MRT.

Now that these places have opened, it's time to buckle down and commence the real work! We need to make sure that people are aware we exist and when they come that they will have a delicious and positive experience. For the latest Standing Sushi Bar, we're making it more of an izakaya and bar at night with a few Japanese cocktails, a good selection of sake, shochu, and umeshu, and also Japanese craft beer and $5 Asahi to wet your whistle. Food-wise we have a big menu of $5 bites at night and also will be introducing an awesome omakase soon.

I'll have to dedicate a different entry for the new Standing Sushi Bar!

How do I hire staff?

I know, I know… I am always writing about staffing woes.  I’m sure the three readers of this blog are tired of reading about this topic, but I think it’s a reflection of what one of the biggest worries is when it comes to running a restaurant – you’ll always be worried about staffing.

Anyway, Standing Sushi Bar is expanding!  We’re heading to Orchard Road in late September and will be launching a new concept (so not called Standing Sushi Bar but something like xxxx by Standing Sushi Bar).  I’ll definitely be writing more about this later, but first… staffing!

Since I’m opening a new restaurant, I need to hire lots of people.  Service manager, chefs, service crew, bartenders, dishwasher, etc.  This is no easy task, and with the recent government changes, we are maxed out on our quota for foreigners.

I have put job ads out.  Current ones running are on JobStreet and Gumtree.  Certainly I will be putting more up in newspapers and other internet sites.  The JobStreet ad has been running since July 24 and the Gumtree ads I just put up this morning.

In each ad I state that the positions are for Singapore citizens and permanent residents only.

There have been 25 responses so far.  All are non-citizen and non-permanent resident foreigners from the Philippines and Myanmar.  There have been 0 responses from Singapore citizens or permanent residents.

This is what I state about pay and experience in the JobStreet ad:

“We pay based on experience, and we pay well to secure the right talent.
All levels are welcome!
Must be a Singapore citizen or permanent resident”

I also make it a requirement that the applicant speaks English fluently.  This might be limiting the people that apply.  I have no idea.

So, if you have any advice on how I can tweak my ad or how to find a Singapore citizen or permanent resident who would like to be part of this new concept, let me know!

I feel bad receiving CVs from all these foreigners, many who have great experience in F&B, but I can’t hire them.

Back from Jakarta

Hello dear reader! (If there are any…) Hope you’re having a fine time easing into the weekend and getting ready for Chinese New Year.  I recently came back from Jakarta and wanted to share some experiences from the opening of the first international branch of Standing Sushi Bar.  It’s located in Jakarta at La Piazza Kelapa Gading.

Standing Sushi Bar JakartaSushi Bar Queue

The restaurant was scheduled to open on January 15, so I flew to Jakarta on January 13.  I wanted to familiarize myself with the area and see if there was anything I could help with prior to the opening. 

When I arrived, the restaurant looked like this…

Sushi Bar Jakarta Construction

Let’s say my first reaction was to ask, “So… are we really opening 2 days from now?  I notice there is no furniture…”

Shortly after that one of the air conditioning units malfunctioned and dumped water all over the floor.  That was exciting.

Well, there’s nothing a 24 hour construction cycle can’t accomplish and thankfully on opening day we had chairs, tables, and functioning air conditioners.  For a bit I thought we were going to have to revert to the original Standing Sushi Bar concept with no chairs!

I’m sure any restaurant owner has the same opening day worry – what if no one shows up?  I was doubly worried since we had done very little advertising of the restaurant in Jakarta.  The main things were the Facebook page, a tie-in with one retail shop, and a banner along the main street.

I guess when the main street is full of Jakarta traffic, that leads to a lot of eyeballs.

Kelapa Gading Circle Traffic

Which thankfully brought in a lot of people on opening day!

Popular Japanese restaurant JakartaJapanese food sushi Jakarta

The mall where we’re in is like an open air shopping plaza; though there are very few retail shops (you can find a ton in the adjoining mall called Mal Kelapa Gading) and instead it’s full of restaurants and cafes.  There is also a movie theater on the top floor.  One cool thing is that almost every night they have a live band playing on the outdoor stage.  From Standing Sushi Bar’s balcony seating area we get a good view.

La Piazza Plaza

Here’s a daytime view of La Piazza:

La Piazza stores

Plenty of places to get a caffeine fix – Starbucks, J. Co, and Black Canyon Coffee come to mind.  Since there was no internet access in the restaurant yet I was constantly buying coffee so I could use these cafes’ wireless internet.

I’m trying to learn more about the Jakarta sushi scene.  If anyone has any pointers or comments about Japanese restaurants there, let me know!

Until next time!

(Oh, and Standing Sushi Bar Singapore sent a little greeting to the folks in Jakarta)

Jakarta Sushi

Standing Sushi Bar Jakarta

A little background about myself – I grew up in the US, fell in love with computers (and sushi) at a young age, and spent years working for one of the best software companies in the world.  9 years ago I came to Singapore to further my career and since then have encountered many random and great opportunities, of which 2 years ago led me to start Standing Sushi Bar.

Tonight I’m sitting in Jakarta, Indonesia (one of those countries which most Americans are scared of), feeling too excited to sleep.  Six hours from now I’ll get dressed and head to La Piazza to witness the opening of Standing Sushi Bar’s newest branch.

I was thinking about how SSB now employs over 60 people.  When you consider how big a part of someone’s life their job is, and that they’re choosing to spend that time with this restaurant, it’s kind of cool.

Earlier I was at the site; everyone was rushing around to get everything set for the opening tomorrow.  Maybe it was the stress or the unfamiliarity of the environment but I was feeling tired and low-key.  My girlfriend and I sat on the balcony which overlooks the main plaza where a band was playing.  I think they were performing an Oasis song.

View from Standing Sushi Bar La Piazza

She said to me, “We’re in Jakarta because of the restaurant you created.”

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Let’s eat some sushi, Indonesia!  I’m so happy to be here!

Standing Sushi Bar Indonesia team

Party platter for the holidays

“Just hear the sleigh bells jingling,
Ring ting tingling too
Come on it’s lovely weather
For a sleigh ride together with you”

Ah, the winter holiday season is upon us and that means people are gearing up for parties, Secret Santas, and toffee nut lattes from Starbucks!

Many of you will have gatherings over the next few weeks.  Include sushi in your celebration with friends and family!  Standing Sushi Bar is running a promotion, 20% off the regular price of our party platters when placing an order 24 hours in advance.

Check out our platters and order now!