Saving Private Business: Founder Bak Kut Teh (What a joke!)

We are in the midst of the worst pandemic the world has ever seen. The Covid-19 has killed many people, many livelihoods and many dreams. Among the casualties are of course countries and businesses.

Some businesses chose to restructure to cut costs.

Some businesses chose to wind up with dignity.

Some took to the social media to ask for support.

Yes, I am talk about the recent online plea by the 2nd generation owner of Founder Bak Kut Teh, Mr Nigel Chua.

Mr Nigel Chua, has posted an online plea on Instagram, to ask for the support of the locals or they will have to close down the business which have been around for 42 years.

Following the online plea, huge support came in and flocked to the branches. However, there were also many backlashes on online forums and on their Instagram page.

Mr Nigel Chua was then interviewed by the where he rebutted some of the claims made by netizens.

First, he does not stay in a landed property as claimed by netizens. In fact, he stayed in a 5-room HDB flat in Hougang. But he does co-owns 3 other condominiums with his father and sister. SO the family owns 3 condominiums.

Secondly, he does not drive a Ferrari or a Continental car as claimed by netizens. He drives a “humble” 2nd hand Toyota Vellfire. (OMV of a Toyota Vellfire is about S$40,000 , similar to that of a BMW 3 series)

Thirdly, the Audemars Piguet watch he wears is a 2nd hand watch which he bought at S$14,000. A brand new watch of the same model would have cost him S$30,000.

So to save or not to save?

I'll say save....... for your tummy for better Bak Kut Teh out there!

Let's talk about the food since this is F&B business.

I have personally visited Founder Bak Kut Teh on a few occasions and I find their food overpriced and not up to my expectations. Compared to other players like Song Fa, Ng Ah Sio Legendary, Ya Hua, Old Street bak kut teh, Founder Bak Kut Teh is really below par and overpriced.

My most recent visit was in June 2020 and I visited the outlet at Boss Hotel. The soup was subpar, a collected opinion of 5 diners in our group.

Local style Bak Kut Teh

The most important thing about Bak Kut Teh is the soup base and Founder Bak Kut Teh is basically pepper and more pepper taste to the point that the soup becomes bitter. There is no other taste in the soup at all.

Priced at more than S$10.00 after tax for a bowl of Bak Kut Teh of such standard, I would rather patronize other stand-alone stalls at hawker centres and foodcourts at half the price.

Founder Bak Kut Teh survived for so many years mainly because of the fanfare and support from tourists who know nuts about Bak Kut Teh. Apart from tourists, with their outlets at Balestier, Jalan Sultan and North Bridge Road, they also get many patrons from the nearby pubs and ktvs who had nowhere else to go after a nights of fun.

Ask any locals and most will tell you Founder Bah Kut Teh is not their top choice when it comes to Bah Kut Teh. My personal favourite is Song Fa Bak Kut Teh for their flavourful soup base which in my opinion is many times better than that of Founder’s.

It was also revealed in the interview that the 4 branches used to rake in close to S$800,000 a month prior to the pandemic. During the circuit breaker, they earn about S$120,000 a month.

After 42 years of business, are you telling us that the company does not have enough cash to withstand 6 - 12 months of poor business?

After 42 years earning your keep as bosses of the company, are you telling us that you are not willing to liquidate some of your personal assets to save the company?

This is typically the practice of most SMEs in Singapore.

When the company is doing well, the bosses pay themselves high bonuses and director’s fee. Money is never kept as company’s cash. Why?

Most SMEs are Private Limited and are when the company goes into bankruptcy, only company assets are affected. Personal assets are untouched.

I am not sure how many supporters stay in HDB and co-owns another 3 condominiums.

I am not sure how many supporters wear a watch that costs S$14,000.

I am not sure how many supporters drove a car with OMV of at least S$40,000.

But for sure, I will never go and support if the owners are still holding on to their assets.

When their business was good, do you see them give discounts to the locals?
Did they honour our NSF soldiers by giving them discounts during SAF Day?
Did they honour our medical support team during this Covid-19 by giving them discount?
When times were bad and people were retrenched back in 2008 and 2011, did they give discounts to show support?

They are just like corporates that pay their top management millions when times are good. And yet, cry for Government bailout when times are bad.

If one day, the bosses of Founder Bak Kut Teh have tried their best to save themselves by off-loading their assets and re-invest the money into the business, I will go and show my support personally!

You have my word.

#FounderBakKutTeh #BKT #OnlinePlea

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