7 boutique hotels and 20 restaurants in Singapore, London, Shanghai and Sydney, such as the latest Wanderlust Hotel, Hotel 1929, New Majestic Hotel, Burnt Ends, Esquina, Meatsmith, Salted and Hung, the man behind Unlisted Collections, serial entrepreneur Loh Lik Peng needs no introduction. Editor-in-Chief, Gursheel Dhillon, finds out more.
Gursheel Dhillon: We are all fans of your businesses, especially your restaurants such as Esquina and Burnt Ends. How do you know which restaurant concept will work given that it is such a competitive market in Singapore? And how do your restaurants not only sustain but thrive?
Loh Lik Peng: I definitely have no magic formula for this. Sometimes restaurants you think will do very well struggle. I can’t always put my finger on what works and what doesn’t but I think that for Unlisted Collection, we are always Chef and concept driven so we always try to find a concept that is unique and that the Chef is also driven and passionate about. We focus on quality and service and we try to be in interesting places and have interesting customers but to be perfectly honest it’s a hard business with low margins and we don’t always get it right. We have had some remarkable successes for sure and we try to build on that always.
Gursheel Dhillon: We noticed your businesses are primarily focused on 4 markets - Singapore, London, Shanghai, Australia. Any particular reason?
Loh Lik Peng: No particular reasons other than those are the places I love to travel to and to hang out in. We are an urban group and we thrive in these sophisticated global cities. We try and make ourselves unique and relevant in the markets that we operate in and we also know that the typical client of ours travels often to these places. I think this has served us well and also diversified our operations and given us unique insights into what is happening in these global cities.
(Nouri's interior photographed by Robin Thang)
Gursheel Dhillon: What's next that fans of Unlisted Collection can look forward to?
Loh Lik Peng: We have some restaurants in the pipeline, for example, Nouri on Amoy Street by Chef Ivan Brehm.
Gursheel Dhillon: What motivates you in your business as they're all such unique footprints?
Loh Lik Peng: I just enjoy what I do and probably don’t need much more motivation than that. I especially love doing restoration projects on conservation building and adaptively converting them to modern use. I think a lot of my hotel work is driven by this passion for example.
Gursheel Dhillon: Lastly, your favourite local places to dine in Singapore?
Loh Lik Peng: I love Maxwell Food Centre for the variety. I also love going to Kok Sen in Keong Saik Road for my Sze Char fix and Mr and Mrs Mohgans for my Roti Prata.
To know more about Loh Lik Peng’s list of brands, visit Unlisted Collection.