Greek cuisine may not be very common here but lovers of the food might recognise the name Blu Kouzina.
Once located at Bukit Timah, the restaurant later shifted to a larger space in Dempsey end-2016.
In April 2017, the team opened a new brand – VIOS – and in less than 4 months, saw revenues jump to 550%.
A Family Affair
Blu Kouzina began its journey in the kitchen of Effie and Dennis Tsakiris, a Greek couple who lived, worked and cooked in Singapore.
As a corporate man, Dennis would constantly travel so whenever he was home, he preferred to dine on home-cooking.
“We’d invite friends over and Effie would cook a feast for everyone. Soon, my colleagues would ask if we could host events at their house and have Effie cook.”
Her successes proved one thing to Effie – that people enjoyed her food. Realising this, she “finally got the courage to embark on her dream of opening up her own restaurant.”
“[Our] first space was a small shophouse in Bukit Timah and was essentially a test – we fully relied on word of mouth without any marketing or advertising.”
The early days saw mostly expats with strong weekends but slow weekdays. They also gradually became popular with locals, especially for their vegetarian options.
At the beginning, they worried about the lack of Mediterranean/Greek restaurants in Singapore – what if their food would not be well-received?
“But we were confident in our food, and believed it would speak for itself. I always stated that if the quality is there, people will come.”
At the end of the day, food is food – it is either good or bad, and taste might be subjective but quality is universal.
And their efforts paid off – the team shifted to a Dempsey space 500% the size of Bukit Timah’s end 2016.
A Partner And A New Brand
In April 2017, the family found a partner in another familiar startup – Deliveroo – and launched their delivery-only branch.
Deliveroo Editions is the startup’s 2000+ sq ft kitchen in Katong where they host brands from Pho Stop, Kurry Korner and of course, Blu Kouzina. There, Blu Kouzina quickly surged ahead to become the best-seller, even quintupling the Greek brand’s revenue to 550%.
Following this success, the family steamed ahead with their daughter Gigi’s new brand – VIOS – and launched it in August from the central kitchen where resources could be shared.
“Food is often perceived an indulgence,” Gigi explains.
“We want to offer people a way to eat right,” she says, referring to their nutritionist consultations and the VIOS name, which translates to “quality of life, lifespan, longevity, and biology”.
“Luckily Blu Kouzina is now an established and credible brand – this sets the stage for VIOS.”
The menu allows customers to customise grain bowls (prices start at $12.99), including homemade Mediterranean-style dips, sauces and toppings.
Options for specific needs are also available, such as antioxidant-rich ‘The Guardian’, energy-replenishing ‘Power and Recover’, and the detoxifying ‘Veda Bowl’.
Joining the centralised kitchen was a big step, but it came with obvious benefits.
The family did not need to set up a new kitchen, yet were still able to break into a new neighbourhood
“All the emphasis is on food and its quality,” says Dennis. “When it comes to physical restaurants, you have to offer an experience, it’s not just about the food.”
Granted, there were drawbacks, e.g. no street visibility, but Deliveroo helped launch them onto the media.
“Deliveroo Editions provides the kitchen space, cooking equipment, storage and riders,” commented Siddharth Shankar, Deliveroo’s Singapore General Manager.
“This increases their efficiency, and expands their customer networks to areas previously out of reach. [This expansion] also comes without cost hikes for in manpower and renovations, all of which are challenges.”
“Overall, our restaurant partners have seen a revenue increase and gained wider visibility amongst previously unreachable consumers.”
“It also serves as a testing ground, allowing them to gauge the appetite of consumers in the Katong area for their offerings.”
Unfortunately at the moment, VIOS is not available islandwide, but there’s no harm in trying your luck – here’s the link to the order page!
10 Dempsey Road, #01-21
Featured Image Credit: Scrumpdillyicious, The Honey Combers