Bona fide businessman-cafe owner Chee Soon Juan says high rent difficult for small-time F&B operators

Four days into being a business owner, Chee urges support for small-time F&B operations like his.

Belmont Lay | June 29, 2021, 01:45 PM

Politician and now bona fide cafe owner Chee Soon Juan has taken to social media to point out that high rentals in Singapore make running a food and beverage business highly cut-throat for small-time players like himself.

His take, with skin in the game, came just four days after his new cafe, Orange & Teal, which he opened with his wife, started operations on June 25 in Rochester Mall.

High rent makes operating small business hard

According to Chee's Facebook musing on June 29, he claimed that bigger chain eateries in Singapore operated by corporations have the wherewithal to make rent, and even pay advance rent of up to six months.

The opposition politician's take is that in this current rental landscape, where landlords are also corporations, small-time businesses have a harder time as price-takers and that leaves "giants that vacuum up F&B life in Singapore".

This, as Chee's logic goes, makes small businesses vulnerable and in need of support from customers.

And if customers want a more varied F&B scene with diversity, they have to put the money where the mouth is.

Chee admonished in his post: "So, the next time you go out for a meal or a coffee, consider going down to your neighbourhood café or the eatery down the road owned by our local entrepreneurs rather than the giants that vacuum up F&B life in Singapore."

"We’ve got to help our own if we are going to make it as a country."

You can read his full post here, which is accompanied by a photo of him and his cafe staff done for the day:

Not the first post about his cafe

Chee's musings about running a cafe has seen good traction on social media.

After the first day of operations, Chee put up a post at 1:30am on Saturday morning to announce his team was finally done for the day.

He wrote that his team had clocked a marathon 15-hour first day, and thanked all those who showed up to support his new venture.

Chee wrote: "It was hard work. We did a 15-hour shift without a break, everyone's dog tired but pulling together as a family makes it all worthwhile. I'm so blessed I have them with me."

Top photo via Chee Soon Juan