At the start of Club Street (or its end, depending on your perspective), away from the hullabaloo of the main stretch, lies a contemporary local take on the Izakaya. Cheekily named Izy Fook, which means “Let’s prosper together” in Chinese, the 50-plus-seater restaurant recently opened earlier this year to rave reviews. And the food is really good.
There are a number of partners involved, but the two main faces of Izy Fook hail from entertainment circles. We spoke to 987FM radio DJ Sonia Chew and talent manager-turned-entrepreneur Alan Choo on the restaurant and the challenges of running an F&B business in Singapore.
How did Izy Fook come about?
I think we just wanted a place that could appeal to the young, a bar that had hip-hop and R&B playing where you could just chill and have a good time. Yet, at the same time, we wanted it to appeal to the PMETs who could come to network and strike deals over lunch. The bars in Singapore didn’t really hit the mark when it comes to food. It was the usual bar bites and grub, so we wanted to build a place that had drinks but also great locally-inspired food.
When did the seed of the idea began though?
I would say we had our first discussion in January this year and within three months, Izy Fook was up and running. The structure was already there from the original Izy, so it was just a matter of rebranding and changing the interior to suit our concept.
There are four main decision makers of Izy Fook, which is quite a number. Do you folks ever fight?
Well, like in any business partnership, there are always disagreements on different issues, but we’ve never fought. We address these problems as a group as fast as possible, and then move on.
Alan: The great thing is that we make decisions very quickly and don’t waste any time. We launch new dishes almost every week now.
Sonia: Yeah, we’re always thinking of new promotions too and I’m glad that the group gives Alan and me a lot of freedom when it comes to making the marketing decisions.
What would you say have been the hardest challenges so far?
Sonia: Izy Fook is my first F&B venture, so nailing down our branding and identity was hard, and this is always one of the most difficult parts of starting a business. Knowing your brand is the most important piece of the foundation.
Alan: Fortunately, for me, Izy Fook is not my first F&B rodeo, so I knew what I was doing. But every business always has different partners, and it’s important that you understand how they work. The chemistry is key.
How does Izy Fook plan to remain relevant in Singapore’s competitive scene?
Sonia: I know this sounds like a cliche, but we excel through our service. Customers who become our regulars have mentioned that they like the personalisation that makes them feel important. Then, these regulars return and bring new friends.
And what’s next after Izy Fook?
Alan: We’re actually in talks to expand the brand into Los Angeles. There’s an increasing interest in Asian-related things there now, so we want to ride that wave. AM