Javier Perez is keeping up with trends in his food and beverage businesses.
What’s your story?
I was born in Puerto Rico and have been in Singapore for almost 10 years. Hospitality has always been a part of my life and from a young age I knew that one day I would open my own restaurant. The romance was always to create spaces which are memorable and have an impact on people’s social interactions as well as to see the joy it creates. I opened my first restaurant, Banh Mi, in 2006 and then Raw Kitchen Bar in 2008. Today, my team and I run Kilo (Kilo Kallang, Kilo Lounge, Kilo Orchard and Kilo Bali) and Grain Traders at CapitaGreen.
What excites you most about your industry?
The opportunity to create trends. Although the word ‘trends’ tends to have negative connotations and might sound really temporal, the idea was to create something that our guests and the public would gravitate to — a process that would excite our teams.
I believe the ability to create trends doesn’t solely derive from pure innovation, but also the reinterpretation of trends that have come before us.
This is not solely for our guests. Currently, our focus is to create internal cultures, trends and mandates. Once we are able to impact our team members, employees and shareholders, it is inevitable that it will continue to our guests and public perception. It is an incredible task and honour to create an impression, not only for those receiving our services, but simultaneously those offering them.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I moved to Thailand in 2005 and after a stint at the Mandarin Oriental in Bangkok, I felt that it was time to begin our individual journey. My wife and I visited Singapore a few times because of her roots here. We fell in love with the city and its unparalleled potential. Although, I do believe, that the drive from Changi Airport and the tree-lined expressway sealed the deal for me.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
I have to say Singapore — it is the city which I am most familiar with, but as we have seen, there are few micro-nations in this world that have accomplished and continue to provide, opportunities for global giants, start-up initiatives and persistent entrepreneurs. I am currently immersing myself in business in Bali, Indonesia and let’s just say, it’s a completely different rhythm.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
I would need a few pages for this, but at the moment: “Everything has its time, everyone has their moment and nothing lasts forever.”
Who inspires you?
This is also too broad to answer. As someone whose aim is to inspire, it becomes very difficult to pigeonhole this idea because inspiration can come from the most minute moments. The trick is to always be aware and maintain an open mind. The contribution to your optimism, resilience, dedication, focus and determination can arise from anywhere.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Relationship dynamics. It is something that has intrigued me. Being able to trace patterns between individuals, businesses, countries, cultures and sports… The list could go on. I believe that the ability to understand and decode this could provide us with many freedoms and lessons.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I won’t have my time again so I can only apply these lessons moving forward. Therefore, I have now decided to be more observant in my life, to listen with greater intent, to analyze with facts and to deliver with honesty, no matter the outcome.
How do you unwind?
Great bottle of red wine! I enjoy what I do so I have this sense that I am unwinding as I work. A continuous search and goal for my life is to always turn work into play.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
There are a few so it would be unfair to say. I am still looking for one that I could call my favourite.
Everyone in business should read this book:
The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz. It’s a simple read with big gains, applicable for both business and life. Business is connected to your life, so it’s good to have these two aligned.
Shameless plug for your business:
In the coming months we’re really excited to be launching something new in the Ture Building. It’s called the Camp Kilo Charcoal Club and it’s going to be, in essence, a barbecue joint. It’ll be a place to chill and hang out, like you’re at someone’s backyard barbecue party — just a really fun place with good food. There’ll be more on that to come.
How can people connect with you?
We are online at www.kilokitchen.com and www.grain-traders.com.
Email: [email protected]
This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:
Callum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries. He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence. A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.
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