Say hello to the Tan brothers, these two Australian-Chinese brothers are co-owners of some of the hottest venues in town, literally. Tanjong Beach Club, the award-winning beachside escape and Singapore institution, and Lucha Loco, the hugely popular Mexican restaurant and bar serving up deliciously spicy tacos and Mexican street food. Not ones who are afraid of getting their hands dirty, these two brothers can often be found working the sand or helping with operations at Lucha Loco with their Aussie-style warmth and easy going manner. We caught up with the brothers to find out what makes them get up to on a daily basis and get some advice for the budding restaurateur.
1. Tell us about what you do…
Christian and I are co-founders of Tanjong Beach Club and also Lucha Loco, a Mexican bar and restaurant in Duxton Hill. I am also a partner in roof top bar Loof. We are both late entrants into the F&B industry, Julian worked as an investment banker for 12 years and Christian in property, IT and marketing for 15 years before making the leap into F&B. It has been a huge challenge, but the skills we have learnt from our previous roles have helped a lot in what we do now.
2. Talk us through a typical day for you…
Christian and I like to get our day going early, weekday mornings you can usually find us at the gym or on weekends we enjoy paddle boarding at Tanjong Beach. Christian spends most of his days at his office at Tanjong Beach Club whilst I am more involved in the operations at Lucha Loco and spend my time between working at home and an office we have in Duxton Hill. We make it a point for one of the partners to always be at Lucha Loco every night we are open, so we rotate the evening shifts. For us it all hardly seems like work, we love what we do, and it is social and fun.
3. If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Make sure you have a solid concept to start with. It is a challenging industry here in Singapore, it is very competitive, rents are constantly increasing and we are seeing significant wage inflation due to the tight labour market. The industry is becoming less forgiving and you need a solid concept to survive.
4. What do you enjoy most about what you do?
Being our own bosses. We both worked in the corporate world for many years so we have a lot more flexibility with our time now and enjoy running our own businesses. Also hearing from happy guests about their positive experiences at our venues makes it all worthwhile.
5. If you had to choose one thing, what do you think you’re the best in the world at?
Procrastinating, I put the ‘pro’ in procrastinate! No seriously, I would never think I am the best in the world anything, I think Christian would say the same. But my strengths are on the financial side, overseeing operations and strategic planning, whilst Christian is strong with PR, the creative aspects and marketing. Together we make a pretty good team!
6. What popular entrepreneurial advice do you disagree with?
I often hear advice that as owners and operators we shouldn’t get to close to our employees. We disagree with this approach, and work along side our colleagues at Lucha Loco and are one big family. We believe it encourages a feeling of belonging and helps us motivate the team. We are proud of our team and continually get feedback that our staff seem very happy and provide excellent service, which makes us very happy.
7. Where do you go on a night out?!
We are both at Lucha Loco and Tanjong Beach Club pretty much every weekend, and when not working our shifts (and without bias!) we really enjoy spending time at both, when we finish work there are always friends around with whom we can have a drink. When we have a bit of time off or after work we sometimes pop in to 28 Hong Kong Street or KYO.
8. If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want with you?
Julian: My surfboard, our Chef Mario from Lucha Loco coz he makes the best tacos ever (we can never get enough!), and one of those super soft white-sheeted beds that feels like you are sleeping on a cloud, like you get at the Four Seasons hotels.
Christian: A sports illustrated swimwear model, my Persol sunglasses and my surfboard.
9. If you could sing one song on American Idol, what would it be?
Julian: I Was Made for Loving You – Kiss.
Christian: Roxanne – Sting.
10. What movie, no matter how many times you’ve seen it, do you have to watch when it’s on?
Julian: Lost in Translation.
Christian: The Fisher King and any Michael Mann, Luc Besson or Quentin Tarantino film.
You will usually find Julian at Lucho Loco, which is where you will also find a damn tasty taco and an instant happiness-inducing margarita! Lucho Loco is located at 15 Duxton Hill, Singapore, 089598. Opening hours are Tuesday – Thursday: 5pm – midnight, Friday: 5pm – 1am. Saturday: 6pm – 1am. For more information check out their Facebook page here.
You can usually catch Christian at Tanjong Beach Club which is located at 120 Tanjong Beach Walk, Sentosa, Singapore, 098942. Opening hours are Tuesday – Friday: 11am – 11pm. Saturday – Sunday: 10am – 11pm. For more information check out their Facebook page here.
Written by Heh Zee