Lee Teng, who owns cafe-salon in The Cathay, once underestimated what it takes to run a F&B business

Not as simple as it seems, he realised.

Mandy How | August 02, 2022, 05:24 PM

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It might not be common knowledge because he's been pretty low-key about it, but besides being a host, Lee Teng is also a part-time entrepreneur.

The Mediacorp artiste, who's also managed by Left Profile, co-owns AIR Salon in The Cathay.

Included in the salon's 6,000 square feet space is a cafe, just adjacent to where guests receive the services.

Photo by Mandy How

Photo by Mandy How

Photo by Mandy How

Photo via Mosanco Enchanted Cafe

Expanding the menu

Even though the business has been around for several years now, it's only recently that the cafe has expanded to a full menu with proper food.

Prior to this, it was only coffee and tea on the menu—no food at all.

Lee tells Mothership: "We [didn't] have the expertise and experience, so we thought that F&B shouldn't be too difficult. We underestimated things."

But the host quickly learned that that was "not the way to run a cafe," as it became increasingly hard to sustain the business without mains.

During the Covid-19 period, however, Lee fortuitously came to be acquainted with the owner of Mosanco Enchanted Cafe through a mutual friend.

Photo via Mosanco Enchanted Cafe

When the latter visited Lee's cafe and realised there was no food on the menu, talk of collaborating came about.

The owner was looking for a minimalist space in town to expand his chain of cafes, which was very much aligned with what Lee could offer.

Photo via Mosanco Enchanted Cafe

Now, the Gallery branch of the cafe offers an extensive menu comprising all-day brunch, burgers, western mains, as well as Asian dishes and sides for sharing.

And we haven't even gotten to the pastries and desserts.

Enchanted Hash (Sautéed potatoes and mushroom in sesame sauce with sous vide egg), S$13.90. Photo via Mosanco Enchanted Cafe.

Sambal Chicken Linguine, S$16.90. Photo via Mosanco Enchanted Cafe.

Ondeh Expresso, S$5.90 (hot), S$6.90 (cold). Photo via Mosanco Enchanted Cafe.

Bandung Latte, S$5.90 (hot), S$6.90 (cold). Photo via Mosanco Enchanted Cafe.

When asked about his involvement in the business, Lee says with little hesitation that he's "only in charge of eating".

But on a more serious note, Lee adds that he leaves the operation side of things to the team, while he assists with marketing where needed.

This means fronting the brand, especially when the other stakeholders might be too "shy" to do so.

Lee also gives suggestions from a consumer point of view—real and honest feedback that helps the team to improve, whether it comes to the salon or the cafe.

One more nugget of info that may come in useful: the cafe allows its patrons to work on its premises, and provides wifi for those who want to do so.

It's a relatively quiet place with plenty of options on the menu—definitely a place we'd consider.

AIR Salon/ Enchanted Cafe – The Gallery

Address: 2 Handy Road, The Cathay, #02-01 Singapore 229233

Opening Hours: 11am - 9pm, daily

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Top image via Mosanco Enchanted Cafe