SELANGOR, Malaysia –Just who are elusive characters that make up The Good Guys of Superthai? They’re the poster boys for the new wave of what’s coming – a return to simplicity.
With the highly competitive nature of the F&B industry, it’s become a challenge to find the uncomplicated. The last few years have seen highly conceptualised restaurants and bars curate themselves to the pursuit of novelty. What this model achieves in providing a very specific experience, it lacks in longevity.
At the crux of it all, when you’re at a loss for what to eat or where to go, the familiar prevails. This is precisely why the back-to-basics concept works so well for Donovan Chan, Jin Tan, and Mark Leong.
Meet Donovan, Malaysia’s very own Don Draper. Eighteen years on the advertising circuit has provided him with a keen insight into what consumers want. And, it is exactly what fuels their brand.
“I’ve always been in advertising, marketing, PR, and now digital, for a total of 18 years. It’s varied from different ad agencies, and now I’m running my own.”
As the last man to join the trio, he brings his extensive experience in the social marketing sphere with him.
With almost two decades in the arena under his belt, it’s unsurprising that the model works this well. Having seen and done it all from beauty to F&B, Chan understands what the consumer is looking for.
And it’s exactly the same thing the three of them want. “It’s cosy and unpretentious,” Chan explains. Which is exactly the feel you’ll get from both Superthai and The Good Guys.
An engineer by trade, and jack-of-all-trades by night, Jin Tan encompasses the ability to have your hand in every pie.
So just how does someone go from a 20-year career in engineering to starting an F&B empire? Chance, according to Tan.
“I have a manufacturing company, and five years ago decided to venture into an F&B business. It just so happened that one of my tenants decided that he wanted to start a restaurant of his own, his own fusion Thai restaurant, and we just started that way.”
At first glance, it may seem a strange move, but Tan’s experience in his field makes him a whiz at the business aspect of running a restaurant and bar. That and his love for Thai cuisine and a drink or two.
While Tan comes off as a rather serious, all you have to do is ask him to tell you a joke when you bump into him. Trust us, you’re going to want to hear them!
Seemingly soft-spoken and unassuming, Leong is truly larger than life. Having spent 12 years in construction, he is a man with plenty of experience in how to fit a square peg into a round hole.
In fact, he comes off as the binding force between Chan and Tan. It all begin as a tribute to Tan and Leong’s love of Thai food. Superthai was already up and running when Leong saw the potential of what Chan could bring to the table.
Chan explains how he came on board, “Previously I had another bar slightly further up from here and I’ve known Mark for very long because we play on the same football team. So, he thought it would be a good idea that I join him and Jin to further expand both Superthai and, of course, The Good Guys.”
With nary a Thai background between them Leong thought, “Don would be a good fit because of his marketing skills and knowledge.” And so, the empire was built on the backs of football buddies.
This is the very vital role Leong plays to the organisation – he is the man that brings different elements together. And there are a lot of different elements when you put two seemingly different ideas together – a Thai restaurant, and a bar.
But the underlying principle is the same – Taking it back to the basics. Neither of these joints claim to be anything they aren’t, and that is why they deliver so effectively. They’ve kept it simple, and taking it back to basics. Head to Superthai for uncomplicated Thai street food, then head down the road for a well-pulled pint at The Good Guys.
Damansara Uptown Has It All
There’s already so much on offer in Damansara Uptown, but these guys have brought some much needed transparency to it.
You know what you’re getting when you enter Superthai and The Good Guys – a Thai restaurant and a bar. What you don’t realise right away is how necessary an addition it is. That is, until you’ve experienced it.
There is a lot to be said for a lack of artifice; and while the goal was the appeal to the office crowd, these are your quintessential neighbourhood choices for a chilled evening out.
The idea has certainly caught on, with international interest in what they’re doing. Superthai is already on its way to Sunway this December, and there will be a whole host of other locations next year. As for The Good Guys, you will have to head over to Uptown to catch them in the act. – The Binge