Just last weekend, I went out on a completely hot date with Kermit of the Muppeteers in Kembangan. Walking around, holding his webby hands and enjoying the sights, we spied an odd little place nestled between a hardware store, a car repair shop and Pet Lovers’ Centre.
Well, okay. I made the hot date up. #foreveralone The rest is all real. Anyways, out of a stroke of curiousity, I decided to take a closer look. Lo-and-behold! It was a diner! AND THERE WAS AN OFFER GOING ON!
Like a true-blue Singaporean ever on the quest for good deals, I couldn’t resist stepping in to take advantage of the extra free meal. I was greeted to a very nice, cosy place.
So I decided to eat. After all, a hungry man is an angry man, no?
Taking a seat, a rather cute and friendly waitress was quick to take my order. Browsing through their menu, I decided to order the rosemary chicken.
I’m not true foodie but, golly, was their food good. (Hey, that rhymed!)
I was content.
I was happy.
Then I remembered Five Stars and a Moon and all you lovely readers. Feeling terribly guilty with having left you hanging on our last installment of “Entrepreneurs in Singapore”, I decided to seek out the owner of this establishment and to find out more about this place.
I requested for the owner of the restaurant and out came a very simple and friendly-looking man, albeit a bit worried. Assuring him that I wasn’t complaining about the food (quite the opposite, actually), I asked if he was available for an interview.
He shrugged and said, “Okay!”
So~ here’s the interview!
I’m here at Rice&Fries today. Would you like to introduce yourself?
Hi! My name is Ken. I am the owner of Rice&Fries. I’ve had this business for 3 years. Previously, I worked in a few hotels – like Ritz Carlton and Fullerton and, for 16 years.
Do you have any hobbies that you enjoy in your free time?
I love fishing, eating and sleeping!
The name’s of this place is pretty cute. It has pretty quaint décor with a very family diner feel to it. Why Rice&Fries?
A lot people think we just sell rice, and fries. But that’s not all that we sell! It’s called Rice&Fries because I wanted to do a mixture of Eastern and Western dishes. East is rice and West is fries. That’s why it’s called Rice&Fries. :D
So… this is a pretty odd place to start an F&B business. I mean, it’s surrounded by wheels and hardware stores. Why this place?
Why? (laugh) I love the food around here. I was searching for a place to start my business and found this while eating in the area. So it’s that simple. Oh! It’s really near Kembangan MRT station too!
Could you tell us a bit of history about this place?
I love food and I love feeding people. I’d worked for a while and wanted to start up my own business to fulfill both of those. I didn’t spend a lot of time starting this business. It all got set up within a month. I did and sourced everything myself, including the licensing, renovations works and the tools for the kitchen.
Oh okay! I’ve tried your food and it’s really good. I would say that it’s something I’d find in an upper-class restaurant. Did you take any courses in cooking or something similar?
Mmm… nope! I dropped out of primary school. The food here isn’t restaurant-standard. It’s hotel-standard. Good food isn’t about studies, certificates or grades. It’s about the quality, and the demands and requirements of the chef. I want my guests to be happy so I demand high standards.
Give us your motto when you’re working!
Attitude of excellence.
Wow! That was a pretty strong statement! I’m sure keeping that business isn’t always easy though. What are the challenges of a business startup in a Food and Beverage industry?
Money. (loud laugh)
Money, money and more money!
Haha! Alright, alright! So… any perks to the biz?
I love my customers and I love to feed people. When I see people enjoy their food, I am very happy.
Any future plans to this restaurant?
Of course! It’d be great if I can own two more branches!
Random question of the day! I’ve been in F&B before and I faced customers from hell. Do you have any stories?
Haha! No horror stories. I love my customers! Okay la. I’ve had some challenging customers but at the end of the day, they just want a good meal and get their money’s worth. I’ve faced a lot of customers like that – customers that have screamed at me and insulted me, to say the least. But to me, as long as I know what I am doing, I’m happy. I do go out to serve customers and talk to customers to understand their needs but I don’t treat myself as someone’s slave. I love my customers and want to give them excellent service. I also respect myself and my staff as people and family.
Do you have any advice for people in interested in joining the F&B industry?
Do it if you love it. Do it with passion.
Any last words?
Nope. Thank you. :D (laugh)
That was a rather short but enjoyable interview! Ken Chia might have been a man of few words but it didn’t take long for me to warm up to him. It was just like talking to an old friend who I hadn’t seen in a long while.
If you’re looking for just the place for comfort food or a place to kick back and relax, this is just the place! In the meantime, have some food photos ripped off their Facebook and Instagram!
For a better view and first-hand experience of their lovely food, feel free to head down for a piping hot dish and an extra serving of love and free-flow smiles!