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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

Big Idea for a new restaurant

The new eatery, along the seafront at One Fullerton, will serve fresh seafood and newly created drinks
The Straits Times - September 20, 2012
By: Rebecca Lynne Tan
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Big Idea for a new restaurant PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

A new restaurant called The Pelican Seafood Bar & Grill, along the waterfront at One Fullerton, is slated to open at the end of the month.

It is the first restaurant concept under The Big Idea group since its recent merger with The Food Chain, a group whose restaurants include steakhouse Bedrock Bar & Grill, Oriole Cafe & Bar, and Oriole Coffee Roasters.

The new restaurant will serve fresh seafood alongside drinks specially created by award-winning mixologist Richard Gillam, whose new creations can now be tasted at The Big Idea's Fat Cow at Camden Medical Centre.

The Pelican will take over the space previously occupied by 12-year-old restaurant Pierside, which was also under The Big Idea's umbrella of eateries.

The Big Idea is now made up of three food and beverage groups.

Last June, Refinery Concepts merged with Marmalade Group to form The Big Idea, a single food and beverage entity.

Refinery Concepts is the group behind restaurants and bars such as the now- defunct Mimolette in Fairways Drive off Eng Neo Avenue and Kinki at Customs House. Marmalade Group's portfolio includes Marmalade Pantry, Marmalade Toast, Pierside and a catering arm.

With The Food Chain joining the group, The Big Idea now has 10 food and beverage outlets here. It will be opening Kinki in Bangkok by the end of the year, as part of a joint venture with a partner there.

Mr Keith Loh, 39, director and founder of The Food Chain, is now chief executive of The Big Idea.

The other board members are Marmalade Group's Shareen Khattar, 42, as well as Refinery Concepts' Karen Seah, 41, Jonathan Chan, 37, Nasen Thiagarajan, 38, and Kashma Budhrani, 29.

Some of the board members are childhood friends. Mr Loh and Ms Seah, for example, have known each other for 27 years. He says: "We grew up together. Karen and I were in Boston at university together."

Ms Seah jokes: "It is a tested partnership. We have even holidayed together."

Coming together was a natural and organic process, they say. As friends, they had often talked about their business and bounced ideas off each other, and never saw one another as competitors in the F&B scene.

Mr Loh says: "We realised that in order to take our businesses to the next level to discover the full potential, we should join hands.

"And now that we are of a certain size, we can think as a group, not as lone entrepreneurs."

The group will enjoy economies of scale by virtue of its larger presence in the industry - everything from purchasing to staffing.

For consumers, that means items such as Oriole coffee, for example, are now available at Marmalade Toast and Marmalade Pantry.

The group, which now employs about 250 staff, excluding part-timers, is also able to provide more stability for staff and career progression.

Moving forward, it aims to focus on human resources and training in the hope of attracting the best talent for the group, from marketing to front-of-house and culinary.

Mr Loh says: "All our concepts are ripe to expand locally or regionally, and we will be looking for the right time and right opportunity to do so."

“We realised that in order to take our businesses to the next level to discover the full potential, we should join hands.”

Mr Keith Loh, chief executive of The Big Idea (with board member Karen Seah)

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