How TungLok Grew To Be A S$30.1M Company
Chances are, most Singaporeans have dined at one of the restaurants in the Tung Lok Group.
From TungLok Seafood to Dancing Crab and Slappy Cakes, the group has an impressive repertoire of restaurants in Singapore. It has also spread to Indonesia, Japan, China and Vietnam.
Founded in the 1980s, the food and beverage (F&B) giant has quickly grown to operate more than 35 leading restaurants in Singapore and the region.
In addition to its own outlets, the group also acquired other brands such as Paddyfields Thai Restaurant and acquired the franchise rights for Garuda Padang Cuisine.
In 2001, TungLok Group was listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange (SGX) and is currently worth approximately S $ 30.1 million.
Revolutionizing the Food and Beverage Industry
Tjioe Ji Nan, father of current executive chairman Andrew Tjioe, initially ran the textile company Oceaninc, but decided to branch out into the food industry when he realized the opportunities were better.
The Tjioe family’s first restaurant, Charming Garden, was opened in 1980. Charming Garden was where Andrew gained managerial experience after graduating from Oklahoma State University.
Described as an “avid foodie with a strong interest in the restaurant business,” Andrew founded the TungLok Group in 1984 with the opening of the group’s flagship restaurant in Liang Court.
Indeed, the 62-year-old was not afraid to innovate and implement new F&B concepts in his restaurants.
Liang Court’s Tung Lok Shark’s Fin restaurant was known as the first Chinese restaurant to use European neoclassical decor. It also offered Imperial and Confucian style banquets prepared by Chinese chefs.
Despite the Asian financial crisis of 1997, Tung Lok opened the Chinese Club and the House of Mao that year.
House of Mao opened at the China Square Food Center and featured a series of Mao-themed decorations and dishes from Hunan Province. It was initially well received, but was later replaced by Teahouse in 2001.
Andrew’s daring has earned him great success, and he has over 10 F&B related awards to his name. On the one hand, he received the “ Singapore Restaurateur of the Year ” award by Wine & Dine in 1997 and 2001.
At the World Gourmet Summit Awards of Excellence in April 2005, he received the “Lifetime Achievement Award”, in recognition of his innovative contributions to the restaurant industry in Singapore and abroad.
TungLok: “Happy together”
Before TungLok Group was listed, it was completely family-owned.
The love of food seems to run in the blood of the Tjioe family and has partly contributed to the success of the business.
After moving to Singapore from Jakarta in the 1970s, the elder Mr Tjioe took the family out every weekend to explore new dining options, which fueled Andrew’s passion for fine dining.
He is also known to rave about his mother’s Hokkien cuisine, which contributed to his sophisticated palate.
Andrew’s sister, Jocelyn Tjioe, who is the group’s senior vice president, also started her career at TungLok at Charming Garden.
According to Jocelyn in an interview with Prestige, she started as a personal assistant to the buyer and progressed to her current role.
Besides culinary know-how, the sibling duo also have strict values when running the business. More recently, Jocelyn has made a starting point for sourcing from sustainable suppliers, promoting sustainability from top to bottom.
The group also became the first company in Singapore to join the Health Promotion Council’s campaign to get foodservice companies to replace sugar with healthier alternatives as part of its War On Diabetes campaign.
Obviously, commitment to their customers is very important to TungLok leaders.
“[TungLok] means being happy together, and we’re in the business of selling happiness, ”Andrew said in an interview with The Straits Times.
“We have to make sure our customers are happy – only then will we be happy.”
Featured Image Credit: TungLok Group
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