Lad & Dad, Est. 2015An idea born in his humble dorm room in London, Keith Koh is the ‘Lad’ of the ‘Lad & Dad’ duo. (The ‘Dad’ is, not surprisingly, Keith’s dad, who helps out at the stall now and then.) Then an undergraduate studying for his business degree, Keith worked part-time at a hotel’s restaurant and bar and it was there that he was first exposed to British nosh and how it was made. A home cook who was already whipping up meals in his kitchen back home, Keith was inspired, and quickly took an interest in replicating the dishes that he was enjoying in London.
Inspired by my daily exposure to British food from my dorm mates, local pubs and food stands, [and at] my workplace at the restaurant and bar, [I even] exchanged ideas with housewives and grandmas!Through his job, he also learned some tips from the chefs he worked alongside, and signed up for short culinary courses on British cuisine to ensure that he was on the right track. But more than just being able to cook up a feast for gatherings, Keith wanted to do more – he wanted to create his very own brand of British-inspired food for the regular Singaporean to enjoy. “I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur, and decided to start with F&B due to my interest, passion, and familiarity (of the industry).” Thus, in August 2015, with around $20k of capital, Keith started Lad & Dad at Serangoon Garden Food Centre.
‘Proper Comfort Food’ At A Hawker CentreWith a tagline “proper comfort food”, Lad & Dad’s menu isn’t extensive, but still satisfies customers with its offerings. Its prices aren’t exorbitant either – ranging from $4 for a Bacon and Chip Butty to $12 for a full English Breakfast. Perhaps the relatively lower price range is also due to where the outlet is located. Nestled among stalls selling predominantly local fare, Keith reveals to me that choosing to start up at a humble hawker centre wasn’t just because of the lower rental rates.
Hawker centres were one of the things that I really missed when I was in London, [as back home, I had] most of my meals there.“I wanted to introduce British food to Singaporeans and make it affordable and accessible to people from all walks of life.”
From Serangoon Gardens To Tanjong PagarEarlier this year, they made the move from Serangoon Gardens to Tanjong Pagar – settling at another foodie haven – Maxwell Food Centre.
Gaining Recognition From Media, British Expats, And PM LeeWhile Lad & Dad is thriving at their humble location, Keith admits that some of the greatest challenges he’s faced so far are the long, tedious hours that he’s putting in at a hot and small enclosed space. “It’s hard to have a proper work life balance, [and it was] mentally and physically draining.”
But I overcame it with sheer perseverance and motivation, with help from family, girlfriend, and friends. I also attended talks and seminars by successful entrepreneurs of various industries to motivate myself!And his hard work and talent has paid off, clinching features in local media and also in foreign publications like Hong Kong Apple Daily and Japanese magazine JPLUS. One of the highlights so far, he added, was being invited by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to cater for his Chinese New Year garden party and meeting him and other ministers in person.
“Enjoy The Craziest Ride Of Your Life!”
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