“Of course I’m worried”: Shane Pow’s restaurant venture fears

The actor invested a five-figure sum from his own savings into his new eatery Mojo, which opens today (Feb 16)

Shane Pow
15 Feb 2017

Shane Pow

Photos: Tammi Tan

After about a year of planning, Shane Pow’s new restaurant Mojo finally opens its doors today (Feb 16). The eatery is located on Telok Ayer Street and will hawk low-carb, high-protein rice bowls in the day, followed by yakitori (meat skewers), small bites and alcoholic drinks at night.

“We wanted a healthy concept because I think that’s what a lot of people pay attention to these days, especially those working in the CBD (Central Business District),” the actor explained to Toggle at the imaging session for Channel 8 drama When Duty Calls, in which he plays a naval officer-in-training.

Best of all, customers needn’t worry about emptying their wallets every time they visit – one lunch bowl will cost a rough average of $12 to $16 each, while dinner prices will hover around the $20 range per person, excluding beverages.

“A lot of Japanese yakitori places are quite pricey and we don’t want that,” Shane explained. “We want people to be able to gather and chill without being concerned about the cost.”

Mojo was originally intended to launch in mid-January around the Chinese New Year period, but they ran into some delays on the renovation side. Fortunately, their landlord was kind enough to grant them a two-week extension on their rent-free period to deal with the finishing touches before the official unveiling.

(Continued on next slide: Shane’s painful five-figure investment)

Shane Pow
15 Feb 2017

Shane Pow

While Shane has always had an interest in F&B (food and beverage services), Mojo is actually the brainchild of his long-time friend Sean, who runs another café of his own. “If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have done it,” he said.

The buddies-turned-business partners got the ball rolling at around this time last year, when a casual chat evolved into a full-on commercial plan. Shane revealed that he pitched in a five-figure sum for the restaurant – an investment he confessed made him feel “heart pain” and scared, as it came from his own general savings.

He was also candid about being afraid – understandably so – of losing money. “Of course I’m a bit worried lah, but every business has its risks,” he said, adding that they’re aiming to break-even and start making profit within a year. “Then, if possible, we’ll see if we have the chance to expand. See how it goes!”

(Continued on next slide: Would Shane leave showbiz for his restaurant?)

Shane Pow
15 Feb 2017

Shane Pow

Thankfully, Shane has his experienced co-founder to rely on and fellow restaurant entrepreneur pals to turn to for advice, such as Pornsak and Ben Yeo. “They shared with me their experiences and some of the problems they faced so I can anticipate them,” he said.

But don’t expect Shane’s handsome mug to be plastered all over the venue as its celebrity ambassador à la Pornsak for his Thai food joint. “I want Mojo to be a place of its own, and for people to know it for its good food and good vibes,” he explained.

Instead, he’ll take on a role that’s similar to marketing and public relations, in addition to attending meetings and discussions on how to run the place. And, if his schedule permits, he’ll even pop by occasionally to tend the bar and hang out with customers.

Although it’s still way too early to tell, Shane doesn’t completely rule out taking a step back from showbiz to become a full-time restaurant boss in the future. But for now, acting and hosting remain his priorities.

In fact, even his personal life is taking a backseat to his professional life at the moment. When we quizzed him about his plans to tie the knot with his girlfriend of six months, 987FM DJ Kimberly Wang, the 26-year-old said, “The most important thing right now is my career, and once everything is stable, then I can focus on other things.”

(Continued on next slide: Pierre Png’s advice for Shane)

Pierre Png
15 Feb 2017

Pierre Png

Shane’s When Duty Calls co-star Pierre, who plays an heir to an F&B business, told us that although Shane made a few trips down to Pierre’s 3O1 Bar & Kitchen, the younger actor did not approach him directly for tips. But if he did, Pierre would tell him, “Visit your restaurant as often as you can so you can make sure everything is running the way you intend it to be.”

The 43-year-old also suggests setting a specific timeline for everything, such as when you want to get back your returns and when you want to revamp the menu.

Recalling the days when he set up his Sembawang-based bistro almost two years ago, Pierre said he was “definitely also worried” when he, like Shane, poured in a five-figure sum investment. “It was my first venture, and I was afraid of not even knowing how I might lose the money,” he said.

Fortunately for Pierre, business has been smooth-sailing, and they managed to break-even within its first year. Although things are not “as perfect as I want them to be”, he acknowledges that the establishment is in a stable place right now.

When Duty Calls premieres July 31, 9pm on Channel 8.

Click through for more photos from the imaging session!

Shane Pow
15 Feb 2017

Shane Pow

Pierre Png
15 Feb 2017

Pierre Png

Shane Pow
15 Feb 2017

Shane Pow

Shane Pow
15 Feb 2017

Shane Pow

Pierre Png
15 Feb 2017

Pierre Png

Mojo's dishes and T-shirt
15 Feb 2017

Mojo's dishes and T-shirt

Photos: Shane Pow

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