Kevin Khoo Bistro is proud to be a restaurant “born at a time of social and economic adversity and uncertainty”.
Indeed, the new F&B joint which opened in September this year was founded with a strong mission to help cabin crew on the ground get through the pandemic.
The aviation industry has been one of the hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, and cabin crew have been laid off in record numbers.
Singapore Airlines (SIA) previously announced that it would cut around 4,300 positions at its three airlines: Singapore Airlines, SilkAir and Scoot.
In addition, over 6,000 of Singapore Airlines’ 27,000 employees have taken unpaid leave since March 2020.
This bad news prompted Ruben Brandon and four other former and current SIA cabin crew members to open the bistro.
An initiative to help the Cabin Crew Members community
If you are wondering if “Kevin Khoo” is the founder of the restaurant, he actually doesn’t exist. The name is actually a pun on ‘cabin crew’.
Co-founder Ruben previously worked as a cabin crew at SIA for more than 10 years, before going back a few years to pursue entrepreneurship.
During Breaker, Ruben, 38, started the Cabin Crew United Facebook group along with six other cabin crew members and current / former business owners.
He built a community of over 2,100 aviation related members who used the group to “come together to find support, share memories and have a good laugh.”
Elliot Chia, business owner and longtime friend of Ruben came up with the idea of opening a bistro to help cabin crew members who have been relocated, providing them with employment in their transition to a new career.
The two decided to collaborate and open Kevin Khoo Bistro, after just a month of planning the restaurant had a smooth launch in September.
The duo have invested around S $ 150,000 in the business.
Ruben told Vulcan Post that Kevin Khoo Bistro was a project started with support from the cabin crew community, which helped with the naming, branding and operations support.
Currently 80% of its staff are current or former cabin crew.
A flight-inspired menu
Kevin Khoo Bistro is currently still on its progressive launch menu. However, the menu is well organized.
Ruben said the menu was primarily a collection of food items that the crew enjoyed when visiting various destinations while flying with the airlines.
For example, the pink tiger shrimp pasta (S $ 22) was created in memory of the ones that cabin crew members frequently had in Frankfurt, Germany.
It also offers dishes that former and current cabin crew fondly remember from their flights. Kevin Khoo’s main course prices range from S $ 8 to S $ 38.
Since Kevin Khoo Bistro is family-run, it will also unveil a children’s menu instead with its grand opening on December 21.
The team is also focused on creating a warm and friendly environment, which is the right balance for all groups visiting the restaurant.
Transform a lifeless space into a lively bistro
Although it is now a bustling bistro, Ruben said starting a restaurant during the pandemic has its share of challenges.
First, the location of the restaurant at Shenton Way “might not have been the best place” as attendance was very low due to the remote location.
Further, adhering to safe distancing measures means the restaurant is unable to operate at full capacity and maximize revenue.
However, Ruben and his co-founders “loved the vibe of the place and decided to go ahead despite the challenges.”
He shared that the restaurant has received a surge of support from his community, as well as the public.
In fact, the restaurant is fully booked for dinner until the end of December.
Different companies have also mobilized to help them in any way possible, such as sponsoring staff uniforms.
In the long term, the team plans to expand and open more branches of Kevin Khoo based on different concepts, while maintaining the highest quality of food and service.
Featured Image Credit: Kevin Khoo Bistro / @aaronpasaoalee on Instagram
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