With a sushi empire that includes 250 restaurants in 10 countries, Sakae Sushi is a true Think Big Success Story. We talked to Douglas Foo who shared the key ingredients of Sakae Sushi’s success.
One of Singapore’s leading entrepreneurs, Douglas Foo, CEO of Sakae Holdings, successfully switched from the garment industry to the highly competitive world of F&B. In the 1st of a 2-part series, he shares with us the Sakae Sushi journey and how thinking big and thinking global made it a success.
The world has embraced Japanese cuisine for its unique flavours and distinctly healthy methods of preparation. These are the very same characteristics that made Douglas Foo think about creating a restaurant that is synonymous to healthy Japanese food. Research has shown that the opportunity lies in the market’s openness to try food that is healthy and more beneficial to the body. Sakae Sushi introduced innovations that catered to that need, one of which is putting Vitamin E into their rice to enhance its nutritional benefits.
Douglas confesses that the big idea for Sakae Sushi was not solely his. It is a vision shared by a team who aimed to create a global sushi restaurant brand. This shared dream commenced with the opening of the first Sakae Sushi outlet in 1997. Fast forward to 2013, the iconic green Sakae frog can now be seen in 250 stores in 10 different countries across Asia.
The Japanese name Sakae means prosperity and the frog was meant to symbolise it. Douglas says that the Sakae frog is a blend of Japanese and Chinese elements. Its head and body form the lucky figure 8, while its bottom part is reminiscent of a rice bowl and the shape of the golden ingot, symbols of abundance and richness for the Chinese.
Douglas interestingly compares his team to various parts of the frog. Those who engage in planning and research are represented by the eyes, those who serve and interact with customers are represented by the smile, and together as a team they move in leaps and bounds to leave the Sakae frog imprint all across the globe.
A restaurant that has maximised technology in its operation for years, Sakae Sushi is distinguished by a unique ordering system – the interactive menu. Back in its start-up days, no developer was willing to do such extensive work for a mere 3-store restaurant group, but still, they persevered with the innovation. Sakae created its own proprietary interactive menu, what proved to be a challenge then, became one of the brand’s most important assets. Through technology, globalisation fast became a reality for Sakae Sushi.