Bright Young Things is a new column where we feature the young up-and-coming rising stars making their marks in various industries to keep an eye out for.
Between the long hours, demanding clients, and the non-negotiable need to be consistent, F&B is without a doubt one of the toughest industries to stay afloat in.
As if all the above isn’t hard enough, Lyn Siew, the dynamic young woman behind the restaurant RUYI and LYN, decided to test the waters with a first-of-its-kind multi-concept dining place that serves modern Chinese cuisine.
“As with anything, we didn’t know if it will be accepted because it’s so new,” she says of the 22,000 square feet space in Bangsar Shopping Centre.
RUYI and LYN certainly is a breath of fresh air. A restaurant and lounge by day, it has the flexibility to be turned into a nightclub at night for a myriad of events thanks to its high ceiling and great layout that paint it incredibly spacious.
“This is my first big project and it is one that has never been done,” tells Lyn. “There was no prototype of such a big establishment. There are over 80 floor staff and the space is equivalent to 6 standard restaurants.”
Her courage has clearly paid off, with diners enthusiastically instagramming their visits and raving reviews being written across the Internet. But behind the photos on social media and many stars on food review sites, lies a lot of sweat and even more hardwork.
With RUYI and LYN being something never before done, Lyn relied a lot on her gut instincts to make it a reality, with a little guidance from her father, Dato’ Seri Phillip Siew, chairman of the Oriental Group.
“It’s about having a gut feeling that something will work. I had no choice but to learn on the job and dive into the deep end and learn to swim. That’s the best way to learn if you ask me. It helps with advice from experienced industry leaders but doing it for yourself is always the best way.”
The biggest challenge
Any F&B business comes with a long list of challenges but Lyn takes it all in her stride. She not only enjoys it, she lives and breathes her new restaurant.
“F&B is not just a job, it's a lifestyle that you have to live. The working hours are very long. There are a lot of parties. There is a lot of entertaining which I love. The biggest challenge is the long hours. I’m the independent owner so I have to be here all the time and be very hands-on. For that, I have to be very strong in terms of my physical health.”
A unique strength
Lyn agrees there are a lot of things that can make or break a restaurant – the location, understanding the local market, how unique your concept is – but all that does not matter as much as keeping your team happy, which is why she operates the place on a flat hierarchy.
“It’s got a lot to do with the people as well. If you don’t like people, don’t go into F&B. We have a very diverse team. With my staff, I always ask them, 'if you own this place, what do you want to say, how do you want to improve it.' I always encourage them to come up with ideas. We acknowledge in open what we like and what we don’t and we work towards a common goal.”
A winning restaurant formula
Merely staying afloat is not on Lyn’s mind. She is out to make it big with RUYI and LYN.
“For us, the most important thing is consistency, especially when it comes to the food. The strength of this restaurant is dependent on our kitchen. As with any restaurant, the quality can dip. You need to make sure that the consistency is there and you need to keep innovating. You need to constantly give people something new so they will come back.”
Other inspiring success tatler_tatler_stories of women in the demanding F&B world: Hats off to these female frontliners of Malaysian hospitality.