Date
15 December 2017
Though only 30 years old, Stan Tang already has a grand blueprint on how to expand the restaurant chain. Photo:HKEJ
Though only 30 years old, Stan Tang already has a grand blueprint on how to expand the restaurant chain. Photo:HKEJ

Rich dad’s son seeks to restore old glory of restaurant business

What would you do if you have a super-rich dad? Some would probably throw lavish parties every so often or invite friends to their private jets for trips to exclusive resorts. 

Wang Si-cong, the only son of mainland property tycoon Wang Jian-lin, held a luxurious birthday bash in Sanya over the weekend, and guests received Macbook Pro and iPhone 6 as gifts.

However, some Fu’erdai (second-generation rich kids) would rather use their parents’ money as capital to grow their own businesses. Stan Tang Yiu-sing, the youngest son of retail property magnate Tang Shing-bor, is one of them.

Though only 30 years old, Stan Tang has worked in a number of industries, including property investment, electronics retailing and finance. He started his own business three years ago, and is now the chief executive of East Ocean, a Cantonese cuisine restaurant chain that his father bought last March.

Tang finds running restaurants a daunting business. Making a profit is not easy amid the high operating costs. Worker turnover rate is quite fast and customer preferences change even faster. 

But Tang remains upbeat about the business. In fact, he’s got a grand blueprint to make it work.

East Ocean was founded by the late master chef Chung Kam. Well-known for its exquisite Cantonese cuisine, the restaurant has served prominent guests like former Chinese premier Zhu Rongji, former Hong Kong chief executive Tung Chee-wah and many other important political and business figures.

However, after Chung died in 2008, many believed the management and food quality of the restaurant suffered.

Tang Senior’s acquisition of the chain surprised the local catering business. But in fact, the elder Tang’s property background is exactly what East Ocean needs.

An inherent synergy exists between the restaurant business and property investment.

In an interview with Hong Kong Economic Journal, Stan Tang said East Ocean’s restaurants can bring in more people to the shopping malls owned by the family.

At the same time, since the restaurant property is owned by his family, Tang does not need to worry about high rents.

However, he fully understands the difficulties faced by other restaurant owners. 

“A number of old restaurants were forced to shut down because of the high rent in recent years. The profit margin of running a restaurant is only about 10 percent. If you are doing quite well, then the property owner would raise the rent substantially. On the other hand, if the restaurant is not good enough to bring in more people, then the owner may ask you to move. However, to renovate a restaurant normally costs around tens of millions of Hong Kong dollars,” Tang explains.

Tang believes that in order to restore the restaurant brand to its old glory, he needs to bring in a new management style and consolidate the 11 East Ocean outlets.

“Before, all 11 restaurants operated on their own,” he notes. “There was no economy of scale. But now, we centralize the purchase of frozen meat, which is more cost-saving.

 “We use that money to expand our management team. Our management team members have increased from three to 15, and this greatly helps the business to run more smoothly.”

Apart from the manpower issue, Tang considers satisfying diners’ tastes quite challenging.

“Hong Kong people used to eat in Chinese restaurants every day, but now things have changed. They could be called loyal customers if they came twice a week. So we have to rejuvenate our menu in order to attract young customers.”

Lafayette Wedding, a wedding planning business Tang started three years ago, is also working to East Ocean’s advantage.

Lafayette Wedding and East Ocean can easily cooperate as they are sister companies,” he says. “Our group can provide complete services from wedding planning to banquet serving. It is more cost-effective to work this way.”

Tang is training his eyes across many business horizons. He says he wants his businesses to be involved in every important stage in people’s lives.

Right now, he is preparing to make a foray into the education industry. He plans to open an international school in Mong Kok next year.

He says school fees will be 60 to 70 percent cheaper than those in other international schools in Hong Kong.

“I hope to bring international school education to the general public,” he says.

– Contact us at [email protected]

CG

EJ Insight writer

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