No stranger to Augustman readers, Johann is someone who needs no introduction. He was one of the many individuals included in our illustrious Men of the Year list just last year, this year he’s back and ready to grind yet again, but if you didn’t already know, Johann co-founded Fowlboys, a fried chicken and burger joint in the bustling cities of Kuala Lumpur and Subang Jaya. When he’s not busy overseeing the daily operations of the restaurant, you can find him in the golf course or in the range, putting the green and practising his swings.
We speak to him about what it takes to run a restaurant, and his first thoughts on the A-Lister invitation in this interview.
We all know Johann Razali - young entrepreneur and a restaurateur. What is something unexpected about you?
Oh wow, I think I’ve previously told you that I was a ballroom dancer right? Hmm, I may seem like an extrovert or an outgoing person and I generally am, but I’m also a person that really enjoys being alone. It's through my alone time that I come up with the best ideas. But I guess if there's something unexpected about me that the readers don’t already know is that I can speak Mandarin. Since my mum’s Chinese, specifically Cantonese, so naturally I grew up learning to speak the language. My dad’s also fluent in Hokkien, he’s Malay but because he grew up in the Northern parts of Johor, he picked it up. I guess having three different dialects in the family is something people don’t usually know about me.
What’s it like running a restaurant?
In all fairness, I think running a restaurant takes a lot of commitment to say the least, it's like having a relationship where you have to commit to a partner. It’s not easy, it really takes everything out of you everyday. There are days when you’ll get a serious phone call about something as early as five in the morning or even in the middle of the night, you never know what’s going to happen. There are the good bits to running a restaurant but there’s also the other side of business that people don’t talk about—days where you have to make sure you’re garnering enough sales to make payroll, ensuring that you stay a good paymaster to your suppliers and vendors, and that’s just part of running the operations. On top of that, I’m also in charge of all the food in Fowlboys. I constantly have to be forward-thinking about food as well, keeping myself in line with what’s going on around the world and what the market trends look like in the next six months. So personally, I have to constantly be on my toes, consuming information from everywhere.
What were your first thoughts on the A-Lister invitation?
It’s definitely exciting, but also partially nerve wracking to be honest. It’s one thing to be selected for a list like that, but it’s also one to go from one list to another, for back-to-back years. I’m not sure if I’m the first but it definitely becomes a larger story to tell my friends and family.
Johann is wearing a jacket and shorts by BOSS and TAG Heuer Aquaracer Professional 300 Night Diver