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In a series brought to you by Expat Choice and MultiCo, Singapore's leading Co-Working Food & Beverage App, we catch up with Restaurant Maverick Alex Gow, Venue Manager, Little Creatures. Alex and his team are working hard to make sure that you, your family, your friends and colleagues are properly fed while working from home, and they are mixing things up including beer tasting sessions, trivia nights and even a live concerts.

Tell us a bit about you, Little Creatures and the story behind the restaurant.

My name is Alex Gow, and I am the Venue Manager for Little Creatures at Mohamed Ali Lane. It often surprises people when I tell them I have been working in Food and Beverage for 38 years, but that’s because I used to help stock the fridges in my Uncle’s bar when I was seven years old. Back then I got paid in a coke and a chocolate bar – that was the life!

Since those days I have continued to be involved in the industry in one way or another, in my youth mostly to supplement my income as an actor and musician, but becoming my full time career over the last 15 years in Singapore. During that time I have managed five very different outlets, and consulted on numerous others, eventually finding a home at Little Creatures.

Little Creatures itself started with a group of mates. All hailing from the beer scene, these guys wanted to brew an awesome, hop-driven American Pale Ale with a distinctive aroma and delicious flavour. A huge shed (and former crocodile farm) on the water’s edge in Fremantle was to become the home of this beer and the birthplace of Little Creatures Brewing - our spiritual home, you could say. Work began in 1999 and we swung the doors open in late 2000.

Little Creatures Mohamed Ali Lane, a 180-seat brewpub in central Singapore, is Lion’s second venue in Asia, having opened Little Creatures Kennedy Town in Hong Kong in 2016. We knew that consumers across Asia appreciate quality products with genuine credentials.  So we thought a little over two years ago that it was an excellent time to step into the South East Asian market by creating a home for one of Australia’s best loved craft beer brands here in Singapore.

What does ‘service’ and ‘hospitality’ mean to you (in these uncertain COVID-19 times)?

The restaurant and bar business is primarily about getting people into your venue, which I have always equated with welcoming them into your own home. This is why we tend to think of our patrons as guests, rather than “customers”. People do not come to us simply to buy a product, but to have an experience, and as hosts we offer hospitality in the way we would with friends in our own homes.

Changes brought on by COVID-19 meant we had to rethink how we offered that hospitality, and instead of being hosts in our own home we became the guests in other people’s homes! By offering a friendly and affordable delivery service and actively engaging with our followers on Social Media we were able to maintain a good relationship with our regular patrons as well as building new friendships with people who had previously been unfamiliar with us.

In fact, the start of June was the second anniversary of Little Creatures opening on Mohamed Ali Lane, and despite not being able to have a big party in the venue we had a week long online celebration with a beer tasting, a trivia night and even a live concert!

What impact has COVID-19 had on your business? 

The last three months have required the ability to change direction in a heartbeat. Some of the initial assumptions about COVID-19 have been proven to be incorrect, and we learn more about it each day. The various Government agencies have had their work cut out for them assessing and adapting regulations as quickly as possible, and likewise we have then had to move quickly to apply these measures to our own model.

However, Little Creatures has managed to stay ahead of the curve to some extent by adopting safety measures before they became officially mandated here. This allowed us to operate pre-circuit breaker with only a small drop in patronage, as we maintained a high level of confidence from our guests.

Once the circuit breaker was introduced we managed to pivot to a delivery based model fairly quickly as we had anticipated the need and were already in the process of setting up the logistics.

Throughout all of these changes the focus has always remained on doing what is right for our guests – whether it is keeping them safe in the venue, or offering them the best service we can in their own homes.

What steps are you putting in place to help your business during these times? 

Having just reopened, our primary focus is still ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our guests and our own staff, and as such we have been implementing further measures to protect against COVID-19. For example, we no longer pre-set tables in the restaurant, reducing the risk of utensils and condiment jars being exposed to contamination, and in the same vein, our menus are now accessed through QR codes. We have also been working with the Social Distancing Ambassadors, taking additional advice from them on their regular visits to the premises.

Of course, some people will still not be comfortable returning to the venue whilst there is still even a small risk, and so we are carrying on with takeaway and delivery options, and even still engaging people online with a regular live music Zoom session every Sunday.

How do you see the industry after this is all over? 

The industry was already in the midst of a paradigm shift, with consumer trends changing significantly over the last decade. This pandemic will only have hastened that transformation, and a lot of venues will need to update their concepts and mindsets to keep up. Traditionally bars and restaurants were often the focus of going out for the sake of going out, and whilst the food menu and brand of drinks usually differed from place to place, the general experience was fairly uniform.

The modern consumer is far more experience driven, and venues that can offer a unique or constantly adaptive experience will be the ones that thrive going forward. Little Creatures, with its on-site brewery and constantly changing roster of craft brews, is well placed to continue piquing the interest of both regular guests and newcomers.

What is the dish/ drink that will be most popular for your customers? / is most ordered now?

When it comes to beer, the original Little Creatures Pale Ale from Australia is always in demand. However, its dominance always depends on what delights our on-site brewer, Greg, has managed to conjure up! We have had an impressive slate of craft beers already this year, despite a hiatus in brewing in April - favourites like Old Greg regularly come around, and the immensely popular Purple Haze (yes, it is purple) will be back for a second helping toward the end of July.

As for anything else, you’ll just have to come down and see what magic Greg has made… and don’t forget to grab some of our popular Creatures’ Crispy Chicken as well!

 

INFORMATION Little Creatures

A. Mohamed Ali Lane, 36 Club Street 069469

E. [email protected]

T. +65 6858 2338

W. www.littlecreatures.sg

S. www.facebook.com/littlecreaturessg

Brought To You By MultiCo

Comments

Rated
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Richard
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1349 comments
29 August 2020
Great article and interview.
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