Shanghai’s F&B – What’s the secret sauce?

Since we’ve all had to stop and catch our breath, I’d like to reflect on a few of the non virus battles in the restaurant industry.

Who’s restaurant survived the last decade? And of those who will survive the virus? Not many, not many at all. Having worked on hundreds of restaurant brands over the years, I’m always staggered at the revenue they can bring in when running well, but just as shocked when customers fall away without warning. Shanghai’s restaurant goers are like a playboy addicted to love, shower them with affection and good reviews until someone else catches their eye, and never to be called again. 

Concepts I thought would never die have been closing their doors, some unlucky enough to have the government or landlords pull the chair away from under you (Shanghai Brewery), others just left sitting in the corner watching their former lover chatting up someone else (Sproutworks). From countless meetings with frustrated entrepreneurs, what did I learn was in their secret sauce?

  • Build a business that brings them back often (Homeslice) once a quarter just isn’t enough.
  • Dazzle them with food that’s great to look at (Bird)
  • Have a face that’s there and that people know (Maya)
  • Tell them stories (Oha)
  • Get your interior right (O’mills)
  • Don’t be afraid of change and change again (Cantina)
  • Busy makes busy (Fine)
  • Indoor and outdoor seating (Alimentari / Everyone at found)


But lastly, go big and make hay while the sun is shining, because even if you do everything right the rug may get pulled from under your feet (Coffee Academics, Saffron, Sashas, everyone on Yong Kang, anyone with a business in February 2020) .

Many of of these are our clients, many are friends, others are just people we love!
If you’d like to talk to us about branding your F&B business, get in touch.