Most food and beverage businesses will attribute their success to either quality food or a good location.However, there is certainly more to that, as Ms Felomina D Rulloda, owner of Charlie’s Paradiso, will testify.
Established in May 2011 and with S$420,000 in initial capital, and specialising in whiskeys and cigars to accompany a meal, Charlie’s Paradiso has successfully carved out a niche in what is an increasingly crowded food and beverage industry.
Having had prior experience in running other successful restaurant outlets since 2006, Ms Felomina was approached by someone to take over a restaurant franchise. Sensing a business opportunity, due to the restaurant’s location in the CBD, she jumped at the chance. However, after half a year spent trying to make the existing concept work, a period which Ms Felomina said was “a tough journey”, she decided to change the concept of the restaurant, which became Charlie’s Tapas.
On the other hand, the specialising in whiskey and cigars came about after a suggestion by her husband,
who was a cigar and whiskey connoisseur. She decided to take over the second level of the location that Charlie’s Tapas was located at, and turned it into a whiskey and cigar lounge. As the restaurant was located in the CBD, there was a captive audience in the workers working there, who
went to the area for whiskey and cigars after work, due to them liking the quieter environment provided at Charlie’s Paradiso. Within a year of the takeover, and a few months after the rebranding exercise, the restaurant began to turn in a profit.
However without exception, the business also had its fair share of challenges. One of them would be high rental costs, given the location of the establishment. Another issue would be how in the early days, as the place was new, a lot of money had to be spent on promotion and marketing to develop a customer base over time.
Another challenge, and one that still persists till today, is manpower, due to Singaporeans’ being generally disinterested in joining the Food & Beverage industry, as well as constantly tightening labour laws with regard to hiring foreigners. Despite this, Ms Felomina has overcome some of these problems with good staff management practices, such as paying better than competing establishments, as well as promoting long serving staff. These policies are in line with her belief that if the staff are well taken care of, they in return would serve the customers better.
As with any restaurant, the things that keep customers coming back are still in place. As Ms Felomina says, besides the business principles of working hard and endurance, good service and good food always matters. As for plans on expanding the business, Ms Felomina is on the lookout for another location. However, the nature of the restaurant will be different, due to her plans to diversify. With regard to overseas operations, she is looking into India and Indonesia as an initial market, given how there is a demand there for cigar and whiskey establishments.
Above all these achievements, the business also has not forgotten to give back to society, making charitable contributions from time to time.
The aspiring entrepreneur is not keen to rest on her laurels though, having already begun on her latest venture, an aesthetic and laser clinic with a doctor friend.
At the end of the day, in Ms Felomina’s words, success in business is about being the best in both service and the taste of the food, with as little waste of anything if possible.