(Source: Inside Retail Asia | 13 December 2016)
Thailand’s Greyhound Cafe has opened its 13th international outlet, marking its debut in Singapore.
It has 14 cafes in Bangkok plus outlets in Beijing, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Shanghai.
For Greyhound, the cafe was actually an afterthought to complement to brand’s fashion line. In 1997, founder Bhanu Inkawat was offered an empty unit next to Greyhound’s store at Emporium shopping complex in Bangkok to sell coffee and food.
“We had no knowledge about food, but we thought, ‘Let’s just do it’,” says Inkawat, who is also Greyhound’s executive creative director. “We served a full food menu from the beginning. Yes, we were ambitious.”
Now the cafe chain is more successful and recognisable than the brand’s fashion business.
Inkawat and his Thai team attended the opening of the 100-seat Greyhound Cafe at Paragon in Orchard Road, introduced by Singapore F&B company JC Global Concepts.
Greyhound’s menu is a collection of the childhood memories and travel experiences of the founders, based on old Thai recipes and ingredients. For example, Inkawat grew up eating the cafe’s Complicated Noodle, which involves diners wrapping minced pork and chilli sauce with noodle sheets and lettuce. The other signature item, Greyhound Famous Fried Chicken Wings, is based on a recipe from the grandmother of Greyhound Cafe’s MD Pornsiri Rojmeta.
Street food twist
“We know that no matter how beautiful your restaurant is, the food is important,” says Inkawat.
“In Bangkok we are known as a trendy cafe, so it doesn’t really matter what we serve as long as it is trendy. But when you open outside of Thailand and people know we are from Bangkok, they think we are a typical Thai restaurant. So we present Thai street food in a hip way, but it’s not your traditional Thai food.”
An exclusive dish to Singapore is the Crispy Pork Leg with Surprisingly Curry Paste, a German- style crispy pork leg marinated with Thai herbs and served with tamarind chilli paste, Jaew sauce (dipping sauce from northeast Thailand) and sticky rice.
Another four or five Greyhound Cafes will be opened in Singapore within the next five years, including a stand-alone. Hong Kong will gain a seventh outlet, and the company is considering new markets – Indonesia, Taiwan and London.
For now, there are no plans to expand Greyhound’s sister brands – Sweet Hound, Another Hound, and EverythingHound – beyond Bangkok.