Spices up Macao’s Round-the-clock Dining
It’s 3 o’clock on a Saturday morning when most people are fast asleep, tourists are wandering down the streets to find something to feed their empty stomachs, so are some party animals after a night of hard clubbing and shift-workers who have just finished a long night’s work as well as others who are getting ready to start their day.
The liberalisation of the gaming industry, where casinos are by law required to stay open 24/7, has stretched the hours of the day in Macao and changing people’s living habits.
For a city that never sleeps, the new night life has created new business opportunities with a whole new market of ‘night owls’. 24-hour restaurant, Café Deco Macao located at the Venetian, may be a better choice at late at night.
The 1,000-seat restaurant in Macao is one of the 16 restaurants owned by one of Hong Kong’s biggest restaurant groups Café Deco Group.
It seems a major advantage in terms of customer volume for the 3,000-square-metre Café Deco Macao to be adjacent to the casino and the convention hall in the Venetian, yet Alan Yu Lun Keung, Executive Chef of Café Deco Macao, has a different point of view.
Except for the breakfast period where the restaurant is packed because of its contract with the Venetian to provide breakfasts for its hotel guests, Yu said that the spacious Art Deco-designed restaurant provides an extensive menu covering a range of Chinese, Indian, Italian, Macanese, Mongolian and Thai dishes.
According to Statistics and Census Bureau (DSEC), Macao recorded a total of 28 million visitors in 2011, of which 57.7% were from the Mainland China. In 2007 when the Venetian mega-project opened, the visitor arrival number was 27 million, with 92.67% of them coming from China.
Having started working in the kitchen at the age of 14 and later joined the restaurant group where his career took off, later becoming the executive chef for the group’s Hong Kong restaurants, Yu, with his experience in food and beverage, made a strategic change at Café Deco Macao when he took over as operations manager last year, by giving more attention to staff and changing its target customers to the Indians.
“I see my staff more than I see my own family, so it makes sense to treat them like they are my family and the team-spirit we have now is a lot better than it ever used to be,” Yu said, and the effect of this is the staff follow his guidelines at work and since then, they have received no complaints from diners and their landlord, the Venetian.
In addition, business started to get back on track once daily promotions were introduced, special deals through partnering with travel agencies, banqueting services, as well as spicing up its Indian kitchen, having recently realised that Indian customers accounted for 80 percent of his business in a month last year.
According to the DSEC, although Indians accounted for less than one percent of the total visitor arrivals last year, the number of Indians visiting Macao has grown from 45,473 in 2007 to 169,660 last year.
“The Indian market is big,” Yu said, explaining that as Indians usually travel with their families and in big groups, this was a major potential to boost its business.
Besides busy cooking up the stir-fries, the steaks and the pizzas, the restaurant’s Indian kitchen is getting hot too as the curries and tandoori are taking over the menu, Indian chefs are also serving up typical Indian desserts.
According to Yu, the presence of the Indian visitors last year has helped the restaurant do seven million patacas worth of business in one month, possibly breaking previews records.
According to statistics, the total spending of visitors in the first quarter of 2012 reached MOP 13.1 billion, increased by 35% compared with the same period of last year. Among which food and beverage consumption accounts for 36% of total non-shopping expenditure. With the accelerated growth of Macao’s tourism industry, more and more visitors and more and more overseas large scale and chain restaurants will come to Macao, which could further enrich local catering industry. Looking into the future, Macao’s economy is growing in a stable fashion. It is accelerating its process of construction of a world tourism and leisure centre. The overall consumption of its residents and visitors will keep on increasing, providing an ample space for the diversified development of catering industry.
Macao’s Growing Tourism Brings Limitless Business Opportunities
Worldwide Seafood Thinks Highly of Macao’s High-end Market
Managing Director Vivien Lee of Worldwide Seafood Ltd. visited Macao Trade and Investment Promotion Institute’s (IPIM) booth at the SMEs Exhibition held in Hong Kong’s Convention & Exhibition Centre in 2004. After detailed consultation, she learnt that Macao was developing many new projects and seeking overseas investment which bears many business opportunities.
In 1973 Vivien Lee emigrated to Canada with her family. She found the quality of the sea water near where she lived and in the United States in general to be very good and that there was a wide variety of delicious seafood which is why she started the seafood business. Vivien Lee believes that more tourists will come to Macao with the completion of many world class hotels invested in by overseas groups as well as the opening of many famous brand retail stores. Tourists will not only visit resorts and shop, but will want to try fresh, good quality food.
Worldwide Seafood (Macao) Ltd. was established in 2005. The company has introduced seafood from all over the world to the Macao market, all of high quality and in line with international food safety standards. The company’s principles are “fair price and timely delivery”, thus it provides major local hotels and restaurants. Vivien Lee says that in just a few years, Macao market’s demand for high-end seafood has increased by nearly 30% and continues to grow. She believes that the annual growth rate will be maintained at 10 per cent for some years.
This is because of Macao’s economic growth, as well of the belief of Vivien Lee, the civil ambassador of New Brunswick Province of Canada, she reiterates “seeking highest quality seafood from all over the world, and strictly abiding by international health standards and food safety rules”. For over 30 years, she has sourced seafood around the world with many relatives who are also working in the seafood industry. The company has become close business partners with several hundred seafood suppliers from all over the world. It has agency rights for sea food in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and the Americas.
Vivien Lee believes that the demand for high-end seafood in Macao is slightly different to that of Hong Kong, mainly because Hong Kong is an international metropolis with an economic system centred on the financial industry, therefore customers in Hong Kong are mostly senior business executives. While Macao is a city of entertainment and tourism, customers here are from all over the world and tend to enjoy a more leisurely dining experience. Therefore, customers in Macao have a totally different mentality while enjoying seafood.
“Seasonal top-quality high-end seafood, such as lobsters, oysters, all kinds of crab, abalone and scallops prepared as signature dishes by top quality chefs and served with one of the wide variety of wines that Macao has to offer.” Vivien Lee describes such a picture of delicious food and good wine during the interview with Macao Image.
With the economic development of Pan Pearl River Delta region and the implementation of CEPA, Vivien Lee believes that the demand for high-end food by Mainland diners will also grow. Therefore, the company has expanded its business in Macao and bought new equipment, such as larger fridges, new processing plant, new machines and environmental friendly packaging. The company also has plans to expand its client base from major hotels to supermarket chains to allow local residents to buy quality seafood to be enjoyed at home.
Vivien Lee ambitiously indicated that the company will sum up the information gained on seafood consumption during conversations with Mainland businesspeople in Macao to enter the high-end seafood market on the Mainland.