White Restaurant Strikes Gold With White Bee Hoon

Singaporeans living in the northern region will certainly have heard of the famous white bee hoon restaurant in Sembawang which always has queues winding its way.

His signature white bee hoon is a dish made with rice vermicelli soaked in a rich, thick broth that includes seafood, eggs and vegetables.

Called White Restaurant, it actually started from a zi char hawker stall at Chong Pang Market in 1999.

Founder Tay King Huak then moved the business to Jalan Tampang in Sembawang in 2000 and turned it into a casual restaurant.

white restaurant
Image Credit: White Restaurant

Its official name was You Huak Restaurant, but the popularity of the signature dish has prompted patrons to call it “Sembawang White Bee Hoon Restaurant”.

This led Tay to register the brand under the name “White Restaurant – The Original Sembawang White Beehoon”, thereby enhancing the brand’s image and ensuring a distinct but recognizable identity.

Today, White Restaurant has grown from a 30-seat cafe with just five employees to a stable of six restaurants and a central kitchen.

The company is also currently run by Tay’s 39-year-old son, Victor Tay. Vulcan Post spoke with the second-generation owner to find out how the restaurant went from a humble hawker stand to a successful restaurant chain.

Learn the ropes from your father

white restaurant victor tay
Victor Tay / Image credit: White Restaurant

From his days in the military and in polytechnics, Victor has helped out at Jalan Tampang Cafe on weekends to help cope with the labor shortage.

He did it all – from learning to cook with his parents, waiting at tables, cleaning the strangled floor trap, cleaning the toilet.

An internship at an oil drilling company during the last year of his polytechnic made him realize that he was not quite suited for the mundane nine-to-five office job.

He then decided to devote more time to learning his parents’ cooking skills, and has never looked back since.

Despite the difficult and long hours, his passion for cooking, serving great food and building great relationships with customers has supported him.

founder of the white restaurant Tay King Huak
Founder Tay King Huak / Image Credit: White Restaurant

In addition to passing on culinary and managerial skills, his father also instilled in him the important value of being “honest and humble”.

The years of learning under his parents’ direction in the store came in handy when he took over his father’s business a few years ago.

Victor had to fill the shoes with his father’s inheritance. As the brand that invented the white bee dish, he knew it was his responsibility to uphold his father’s standards.

Even though Victor is expanding the business and the menu, he has always maintained the consistency of their white bee dish.

More and more to a chain of 6 sockets

White restaurant at Jewel Changi
White Restaurant at Jewel Changi / Image Credit: Seth Lui

Under Victor’s leadership, the White Restaurant Group has grown steadily and rapidly from one to six outlets across the island in less than six years.

The opening of their latest outing is at Punggol’s Waterway Point – a change from their popular outing at Punggol Settlement.

To meet demand, as well as to maintain the quality and consistency of the food, Victor also oversaw the establishment of a central kitchen.

In addition to their typical white bee dish, Restaurant White also offers other deli dishes such as grain shrimp and salted egg squid.

white beehoon restaurant
Image Credit: CapitaLand

Victor has also followed the trends by innovating with new flavors to appeal to the younger generation with dishes like the white bee with truffle and the white bee mala.

The brand overhaul has proven to be a success as the Group continues to gain young fans. So it’s no surprise that White Restaurant brings in over $ 1 million in group income every month.

According to Victor, he plans to launch the white bee dish in Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines in the near future.

China may be in the pipeline after Southeast Asia, he added.

I consider the White Beehoon to be an iconic Singaporean dish, as do our chili crab, chicken rice, and kaya toast. I would love to put this dish on the world map.

It’s a simple dish that all Singaporeans are familiar with, there is no debate that this is a Singaporean dish.

– Victor Tay, president of White Restaurant

Manage copiers

Victor Tay white restaurant
Victor Tay / Image credit: White Restaurant

Victor told Vulcan Post that one of the biggest challenges in this competitive industry is to stay relevant.

“Even though we are the first to offer this dish, the dish has been so popular that over the years there have been many similar interpretations on the market,” he continued.

I was initially very angry when friends and regulars sent me pictures of them. However, over the years I realized I had to take it all in my stride.

It just meant that it was so good that people would copy us, and I somehow felt flattered that the dish was worthy enough for people to try and replicate.

– Victor Tay, president of White Restaurant

Apart from the “copiers”, he expressed his gratitude to Singaporeans who recognize them as “the original, the legitimate inventor of the dish”.

In fact, this is where maintaining the quality and consistency of the food can help beat the competition.

In search of new avenues of growth

During the Covid-19 period, White Restaurant has seen an increase in takeout and delivery orders with customers looking for smaller dishes as large group gatherings and food sharing are not allowed.

This prompted them to put together individual individual bento sets as well as bento sets.

“This trend is one of the reasons that shaped our business orientation to open more self-service outlets in 2021,” said Victor.

Adding express points of sale is a strategic approach for the Group. These outlets would be smaller self-service restaurants requiring less staff and would offer an organized selection of White Restaurant’s most popular dishes.

Labor constraints are affecting the service sector, particularly with the reduction in the quota of foreign workers and the closure of Malaysia’s borders.

Opening these self-service outlets would allow us to meet take-out and delivery needs, and reach customers in areas of Singapore that our current restaurants are unable to meet. .

– Victor Tay, president of White Restaurant

As well as expanding their fleet of restaurants here, they are also conducting R&D to sell condiments such as their pasta, sauces, and a ready-to-eat version of their popular white bee dish.

They hope to export these products to other countries for possible sale.

White restaurant menu
Image Credit: White Restaurant

Again, this is a strategic step for the company as it strives to expand its presence in Singapore and internationally.

To take the Group to greater heights, his brother-in-law Alan Wah was recently appointed CEO of the company to lead and lead the expansion plans of the company.

We are confident that the Group will continue to see more exciting expansion plans in the near future under the leadership of these two brothers.

Featured Image Credit: White Restaurant / Shopsinsg

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Jothi Venkat

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