“Food has always been a very big part of my life. I am half-Peranakan and growing up, I would always be surrounded by delicious Peranakan dishes cooked lovingly by my late grandma. In fact, my entire family clan are foodies [and] that was where my love affair with food started.” – Derrick Chew, founder of Hyde & Co.
Hyde & Co. – now renamed to Take Hyde Out – is a halal restaurant situated along North Bridge Road and although the cafe’s exterior might not look local, but that’s where you’re wrong.
With a menu with chili crab and mee rebus, you’ll definitely feel right at home.
And that’s where things get interesting, because their chili crab is ‘Chilli Crab Pasta’ and mee rebus is ‘Gnocchi Mee Rebus’.
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In fact, their innovative foods and custom tea blends are so well-received that they were awarded ‘Best Halal Cafe’ in 2016 by Burpple. And even the numbers are looking good for the them, with the company raking in $50-$60k on average per month for the past 2 years.
The Hyde & Co. Story
Hyde & Co. was founded by local foodie Derrick Chew, who did not begin his entrepreneurial journey in food.
A student of film and marketing with his work experiences in media, PR and theatre production, Derrick shares that his arts background actually influenced him in his F&B venture.
“I see food creations as works of art with some sort of theatrical element in the food served. At the end of the day, we are not just in the business of the F or the B – we are in the business of creating memorable experiences, whether it’s art or food.”
His first stop was at a bakery, but unfortunately he found that its artistic direction and vision did not align with his own. By that time, he was already playing with multiple concepts just waiting to be realised.
“My parents were happily retired at that point but also were looking for something to do. So I sounded them out and we decided to give the business a second try,” Derrick shares.
An Old-New Singapore Blend
During the early days, he discovered that their location had a history of Chinese construction companies whose names ended with “& Co.”, an aspect they decided to adopt into their own name.
He reveals that he is also fascinated with “London and all things English, and wanted the space to have some English charm”. So when his designer suggested ‘Hyde’, he immediately jumped onto the idea.
A tribute to Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, Derrick became “obsessed with the idea of a blend of 2 worlds”.
“It was the idea of something Classic paired with something Contemporary. A truly “made in Singapore” brand, we draw our inspiration from the Singapore story; of our past – the old world British charm and our present.”
The blend shows in their interior design as well as in their menu.
From the Gnocchi Mee Rebus to Sambal Chinchalok Pizza, Derrick works closely with his Chefs – Nazz, Ian and Keith – to debate, curate and replicate classic favourites with “their signature Hyde spin to them.”
One problem Derrick faced early on was due to his heavy reliance on part-timers instead of investing more to attract competent full-timers. There were “scheduling nightmares and inconsistency in service standards”, and he found himself having to train and re-train them.
“At one point, I was managing 20 different part timers and their schedules. I almost went crazy!”
Now, the teams operates with 5 full-timers supported by part-timers, and although he still faces problems, it is definitely a huge improvement.
“I guess it was a necessary evil – a baptism of fire for me. I needed to experience that so that I could improve my business operations and manpower workflow,” he reflects.
Reinventing Halal Perceptions
As a halal restaurant, Derrick shares that their vision is to change the perception shared by many – that Halal food is inferior.
“We want to prove that with a great concept and with culinary integrity, going Halal only means not using pork and alcohol in our dishes. That is our mission at Hyde & Co. and it has been well received by the Muslim community.”
And they are achieving this in innovative ways indeed. For both their 1st and 2nd anniversary dinners, the team has been organising fine dining experience with 6-course meals.
Launching New Experiences
The team recently underwent renovation to reveal some new aspects, the use of technology and their new concept – Take Hyde Out.
Customers now can pre-order online and pick up their orders at the outlet. The team has also digitised the order and payment systems to streamline operations.
In addition, their menu now emphasises on a variety of pizzas and pastas, which helps keep the kitchen lean and delivery-friendly.
Their new Facebook Chatbot Messenger “completes the whole tech ecosystem, as a directory for customers to make reservations, view the menu and to order online,” Derrick finalises.
“We are now living in The Age of Digital Revolution. I strongly believe that as business owners we need to put our ears to the ground and be very sensitive to new trends and the changing times.”
“The only constant is change and we have to innovate and adapt or risk being left behind.”
As for their rebranding to Take Hyde Out, it comes in line with being “closer to the ground”, and more flexible to rove around.
“We will be at the Singapore Coffee Festival in August and hope to do more pop-up events. The potential of a kiosk or franchise is also a possibility,” Derrick shares excitedly.
“But for now, it is all-hands-on-deck as we prepare and gear up for our launch and for the month-long Ramadan.”
785 North Bridge Road
Featured Image Credit: The Hyde & Co. Team