How Family-Run Foodcourt Asian Food Mall Survived 70% Sales Loss

Growing up, Wong Minying used to see customers invade Asian Food Mall, a food court at Lucky Plaza that his family runs.

However, when Covid-19 hit, the family foodcourt business was hit 70%.

“As we are located in Orchard Road and with stores closed, no tourists and the implementation of work from home, our sales have suffered greatly,” lamented Minying.

In this interview with Vulcan Post, Minying talks about how she helped her parents’ business survive the terrible pandemic.

24 years in the race

His parents saw an opportunity for a foodcourt concept in the heart of Orchard Road in the 1990s.

At the time, there was only one foodcourt at the Scotts Shopping Center, and more foodcourts were needed along Orchard Road.

Lucky Plaza was one of the first malls along Orchard Road during this time and was popular among wealthy local shoppers who live along the Tanglin and Cairnhill areas as well as Malaysian and Indonesian tourists.

Asian mall
Image Credit: Asian Food Mall

As a result, they decided to open Asian Food Mall at Lucky Plaza in 1996.

Nowadays, it is mainly frequented by Filipinos, the office crowd, as well as tourists, especially during medical tourism and parties.

Today, the Asian Food Mall has 16 stalls with two well-known Filipino brands in the food court: Jolibee and Tapa King.

Besides Filipino cuisine, they also sell local dishes such as bak chor mee, Chinese mixed rice, roasted delicacies, Chinese vegetarian food, and nasi padang.

“This is where we differentiate ourselves from other food courts along Orchard Road because you can find some of the biggest Filipino brands here,” Minying said.

How this millennium joined the family business

According to Minying, she grew up in a family that “values ​​food very much.”

“On top of that, I also wanted to ease the burden on my parents as they get older.”

Wong Minying Asian Food Mall
Wong Minying / Image Credit: DBS Bank

I started with my own booth where I got to experiment with different western food. I learned the tricks of the trade as a stand holder, especially on daily stand operations (like) food preparation, cleaning and checkout.

– Wong Minying, Managing Director of Asian Food Mall

She eventually rose through the ranks to take over general management of the entire food court.

With an internship experience at the Philippine Trade and Investment Center, Embassy of the Philippines, where she learned about their culture and food, she was able to transfer this knowledge to the company, as the Filipino community is one of their main target markets.

Today, Minying manages the foodcourt operations, including business development and rental integration.

Digitize Foodcourt

As the pandemic has affected restaurant establishments nationwide, Asian Food Mall has been hit 70% by most of its food stalls.

Mining had to find ways to support the business or risk closure. Since their food court was in town and most of the food delivery hubs delivered food to a shelf, they decided to go for island-wide delivery.

However, since the island-wide delivery options were more expensive, they decided to integrate the Oddle online ordering system with the help of DBS Bank’s Relief Program for Catering Businesses. .

Using the Oddle platform, F&B SMEs can integrate with Oddle’s preferred logistics partners for on-demand food delivery.

She also helped strengthen the social media presence of Asian Food Mall, which was lacking before Covid-19.

She bolstered their Facebook page with enticing videos and photos of dishes available at the foodcourt.

In the past, no one would have thought that a food court would need to be on a social media platform, but that visibility is important now.

– Wong Minying, Managing Director of Asian Food Mall in an interview with DBS Bank

With that done, she decided to do what was necessary to further digitize the human resources and financial aspects of the business.

Her parents were hesitant at first when it came to improving their backend procedures because it was so different in the way they did things.

However, after understanding each process, they realized it was time to digitize each component for efficiency.

If anything, I wish we had embarked on this digitization process earlier, before Covid-19 hit us. It would have cushioned the blow a bit.

The pandemic revealed gaps in the business and allowed us to see what is missing in the market as well.

– Wong Minying, Managing Director of Asian Food Mall in an interview with DBS Bank

Create a new F&B brand online

It was also the pandemic that prompted Minying to seize the opportunity to start a new online business.

Called Yuan Collagen, she co-founded it alongside Singaporean actress Chantalle Ng during The Breaker.

Wong Minying and Chantalle Ng yuan collagen
Wong Minying and Chantalle Ng / Image credit: Yuan Collagen

As Chantalle was unable to return to the shoot and business had slowed down in the food court, they thought this would be a good opportunity to find an alternative source of income.

Yuan Collagen sells premium collagen soup that has been boiled twice for over 10 hours in 500g or 1kg packets.

Of the inspiration behind it, Minying said, “Before that we would always have hotpots at my house where our friends would all agree that my mom makes the best hotpot soup base.”

Yuan collagen soup
Image Credit: Yuan Collagen

The recipe for Yuan Collagen was passed down from Minying’s grandmother.

They launched the brand with an all-natural premium chicken collagen broth, which is also their best-selling product.

Since then, we have grown to offer hotpot packs, noodles and herbs as a complement. This is going well, where we sell over 1000 packs per month and our hotpot bundle has been a success as well.

– Wong Minying, Managing Director of Asian Food Mall and Co-Founder of Yuan Collagen

They will expand their product line by partnering with expert chefs to introduce new flavors, slated to launch in mid-October.

They are also growing their omnichannel sales by offering online ordering on their e-commerce platform and drop-in shopping at Asian Food Mall.

Further digitization of Foodcourt

Among other digitization measures they are considering, they are also considering implementing QR ordering from tables, where customers will be prompted to pick up their orders when they are ready.

They are also looking to expand delivery options by providing “mix and match” options in the food court as they “have a lot of Filipino customers who don’t live within a 3 to 5 mile radius.”

Through these digital marketing efforts, they aim to let more people know about them – that Asian Food Mall lives up to its name and is a place where you can get your local food as well as some authentic Filipino food.

Featured Image Credit: DBS Bank

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Jothi Venkat

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