Min Chan was brought up surrounded entertaining parents… She’s now taken her childhood exposure on board and started her own hospitality businesses.
What’s your story?
I am New York born and a Singapore, Hong Kong and NYC-bred former diplobrat, raised by hospitality obsessed parents who are constantly entertaining. I opened my first restaurant after working in hotels, events and F&B consulting for 11 years, with a goal of creating a little piece of NYC in Singapore. Since then I’ve had 3 businesses, each unique, celebrating American-style cuisine.
What excites you most about your industry?
We’ve been through a bit of a renaissance in the hospitality industry in Singapore in the past 6 or 7 years. The constant evolving scene and the influx of talent, in turn leading to the emergence of a lot of homegrown talent has been an exciting process to watch and be part of.
What’s your connection to Asia?
My family is Singaporean, and whilst I don’t come across as very local, I do have extremely strong Cantonese roots.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
I haven’t had any experience outside of Singapore, so hard to speak to this question. I do fantasize about a business in Hong Kong, to operate in a city that is so frantic and has such an immense population compared to a relatively sleepy Singapore, seems exciting.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
It’s always business. Never get attached to people, concepts, methodology – restaurants are a constantly evolving beast and nothing stays stagnant. People leave, money gets stolen, businesses close, tastes change. Being able to let go and move on is something I have to remind myself of often.
Who inspires you?
Recently I have come to the realization that much of my personal philosophy comes from my father. We both fly relatively under the radar, focus on efficiency and getting shit done, and prize loyalty and integrity above profit and recognition.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
How to let go, and switch off. I haven’t really done that in the last 6 years of operating the businesses and being able to completely detach during my trip to Como, literally without using my laptop even once, has allowed my brain to reset and increase productivity significantly.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would go smaller, tighter, and more true to a singular concept. My love for this business comes from connecting with our guests on a regular basis, and as I have expanded into more concepts that I love and believe in, my capacity to spend time creating intimate experiences for people has decreased. I miss being in service, and being a part of the experience.
How do you unwind?
This sounds counter-intuitive but I love throwing food-focused parties. I cook for friends every chance I get, whether it’s my annual Turkeypalooza Thanksgiving/Christmas party, my Pistola throwback where I make the much beloved and missed tacos from my now-defunct taqueria, or weekly dinner parties for close friends.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I am a bit of a workaholic and rarely travel in Asia. I allow myself one 2 week vacation a year and usually end up in Europe or stateside – this year it was Lake Como for my best friend’s wedding and about 8 kg of pasta consumption on a boat.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Setting the Table. Danny Meyer applies hospitality principles to business in the most eloquent way.
Shameless plug for your business:
I like to think we under promise, over deliver. There is nowhere like Club Street Social or Decker Barbecue in Singapore in terms of quality to value proposition in an authentic environment with exceptional service.
This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:
Callum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries. He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence. A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.
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