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Opening a Restaurant
Opening a Restaurant in Singapore...
career centeropening a restaurant

Thinking of opening a restaurant or two in Singapore. Check out what Managing Director Mark Cholewka of Igor's restaurant Group, Singapore has to say first.....

Opening a Restaurant
WildfireFirstly can you tell us about your new restaurant?
We have 3 restaurants in Singapore. Stormy Weather Bar and Grill, which as seafood restaurant, Wildfire, which is a woodfire pizza restaurant and Igor's, which is a horror dinner theater.

Is it a pre-existing building or did you have to find a architect?

Were building permits a headache, or are the government very efficient? It is a pre-existing building but we had to alter the structure and had to wait about 4 months for the approvals and the work to proceed. The permits are not a problem they just take 6 weeks to process. No faster no slower. Its efficient in a matter that you know when it will be approved or disapproved.

Stormy LogoDo you have to get special permission to open a business in Singapore's a foreigner?
No, you only need a sponsor or a $3000.00 bank guarantee to get the work visa. After you get the visa, you have to apply for a company through the ROCB. The cost for this is around $2000 all in.

Is the a lot of read tape to go through to get liquor permits and the other ecessary documentation involved in opening a restaurant?
Unless you are a criminal, you can get the licenses before you are ready to open the doors. Usually 2 weeks to get the liquor license. The restaurant license is subject to approval by the Ministry of Environment with an inspection. The inspection will last about ten minutes and they look for the usual standards of North America with a few inexpensive twists. Not really a big deal.

How did you go about recruiting staff, I understand the labor market is very tight?
Find a good manager and Chef and the rest will come. My advice...spend good money on top. There is a saying that says" the fish stinks down from the head". I live by this in Asia.

How limited are you to employing expats?
You can hire usually specialists. Meaning, one manager, one chef, one marketing...but limited to necessary requirements. Just use your head and pocket book wisely.

WildfireHow will you market the restaurant, do you have a P.R company?
We do our own marketing. We have a group PR and Marketing manager(Canadian) who does all the printed matters, ads, promotions etc. There are many avenues of advertising.

Equipment and furnishings, where did you purchase these from?
Is this expensive or not too bad being as there is so much manufacturing taking place in your neighboring countries? Easy and Cheap. There are many companies that do local equipment as well as import. We have garland stoves, WoodStone pizza ovens, local fridges(I would recommend because you can get them fixed faster), rational combi's... you want it, you can get it.

What about recycling and garbage control. I know Singapore has a reputation of being very clean is waste management a big deal and is there big fines involved if you do not stick to the guidelines?
Waste management is not a problem. Recycling is not widely practiced as it is too expensive. We do have to separate our wet and dry rubbish though.

WildfireCan you also think of any other pertinent questions that you think should be included, or information that you would have liked to have known before the onset of your project.
Taxes, CPF, GST...mostly money and accounting issues. Things like transport allowances for staff after midnight. CPF the rate changes according to the economy. CPF is a providence fund which the employee contributes 20% of their income and the company has to match it. It is a very costly exercise. GST- if you have revenue less than 1 million in a year then you don't have to charge or pay GST. If you go over and you did not register, then you are liable for 3% of sales. Staff is hard to find...really hard to find...let me re-phrase f.....g hard to find.

Mark Cholewka Igor's Group Managing Director Singapore

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