Owner of Jekyll & Hyde to juggle a 9-5 job and a bar business

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During the day, Ee Chien Chua takes on a well-paid, full-time job in technology, business and finance.

In the evening, he puts on his entrepreneurial hat and runs his Jekyll & Hyde bar which generates over a million dollars in revenue.

Ee Chien has helped emerging high-tech companies like Uber and Grab grow and launch different products and solutions. Then, from February this year, he served as Director of Business Development and Partnerships at Endowus Digital Wealth Advisor.

Meanwhile, Jekyll & Hyde has received a lot of media coverage as example of stellar F&B which has successfully survived the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

After declaring his intention cease operations on Carrer Tras, in June 2020, was resurrected in a surprising turn of events the same month opportunity for collaboration with Cheeky Coffee He came. Jekyll and Hyde now occupy the existing space on Cheeky’s second floor as both companies team up to reduce their overhead costs.

If these feats seem superhuman to you, it’s because they are. Ee Chien sits down with Vulcan Post to share how he does everything.

From technology to F&B

Born and raised in Singapore, Ee Chien holds a degree in communications from Brigham Young University in the United States, but has never worked in this field.

After graduating, he got a finance job at Goldman Sachs in the United States, operating equity swaps and contracts for difference (CFD). However, he thought it was not a field he was looking to do in the long run and began looking for opportunities in the technology industry.

Due to difficulties with visa and permit issues and his desire to be closer to his aging parents, he decided to look for a tech job at his home in Singapore.

He got a job at Uber as an operations and logistics partner and successfully incorporated Uber’s hourly rental programs into his vehicle solutions team.

Uber team he worked with / Image credit: Ee Chien Chua

In 2018, just as he made the transition from Uber to Grab, he stumbled upon the opportunity to take over Jekyll & Hyde’s operations. He took on the challenge almost on impulse.

I was scrolling through BusinessforSale.com and saw that the owners were putting the bar up for sale. I thought it would be an interesting project for me.

I’ve always been a fan of Jekyll and Hyde. It was a nice little bar that had been around since 2013 and was just around the corner from the Uber office.

– Ee Chien Chua, owner of Jekyll & Hyde

Direction of the evolution of Jekyll and Hyde

The concept of Jekyll & Hyde was inspired by a famous novel by Oscar Wilde: then he adopted two personalities: a nail room by day and a living room by night.

Ee Chien thought the bar had established itself as a unique home-grown business and that there was great potential to make it grow even more.

Since taking over Jekyll & Hyde in 2018, Ee Chien has continued to maintain the unique standards and outlets of cocktails tailored to the bar.

jekyll & hyde cocktails
Tailor-made cocktails / Image credit: Jekyll & Hyde

Since Ee Chien knew nothing about making cocktails, he retained the original equipment and gave them full control to unleash their creativity. However, he had to learn from scratch: from creating menus, the craft of cocktails, obtaining supplies, to hiring the right people.

He also had to learn about people management and customer service, which are essential for the F&B industry, to better relate to his clients. It would take a few hours every few days of the week to personally serve customers and thus better understand their perspectives and preferences.

Unlike working for large technology companies with massive investor funding, where there is plenty of room for financial losses and failures, he had to work hard to bring the dough to his bar and restaurant business.

And, unlike top-tier startups, profits and losses are important to a small business like Jekyll & Hyde.

However, what he brought to the table from his technological work is the bold, daring and agile mentality. that he has developed.

Uber’s motto was “always in a hurry.” You always have to hurry up and try to get things done. You need to get things out as quickly as possible and repeat and try them out.

– Ee Chien Chua, owner of Jekyll & Hyde

In tech startups, whenever something goes wrong, he has been trained to try something else the next day and the next day. There is no room for hesitation.

During the pandemic, this reckless and decisive approach helped Ee Chien keep the business afloat.

Fortunately, he also received the blessing with the outpouring of the community and the support of fans after announcing his intention to close.

Many fans and customers supported Jekyll & Hyde by ordering the delivery of packaged cocktails and subscribing to their online cocktail classes, which gave them some cash flow to continue operations.

Finding a better owner and a more affordable space with Cheeky was another life saver.

Ee Chien said he really couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel until Cheeky’s Eugenia Tan came to his collaboration. At the end of the day, Jekyll & Hyde were saved thanks to the effort of the community.

Meet the “new” Jekyll & Hyde

Located in a two-story store at 74 Neil Road, Jekyll & Hyde now offers two different settings: outdoor and indoor.

On the ground floor, guests are immediately greeted with a whimsical 40-seat courtyard lined with green artificial turf and Victorian-inspired illustrations. This dog-friendly outdoor space offers guests a cozy place for lazy weekend brunches, casual sunsets and cozy dinners.

jekyll & hyde outdoors
Jekyll & Hyde Outdoor Area / Image Credit: Jekyll & Hyde

After the outdoor section, a staircase leads to an eight-seater bar with a 22-seater dining room on the second floor of the store. In contrast to the technical environment of the ground floor, this upper level indicates an almost monochrome urban sophistication.

Since reopening, Jekyll & Hyde is reintroduced as a cocktail bar and full kitchen offering an expanded food menu.

The new menu offers a selection of great local comfort dishes, such as Chili Crab Nachos, fresh Orh Lua (oyster omelette) and Hua Tiao Bee Hoon.

jekyll & hyde food
Jekyll & Hyde Oyster Trout Representation / Image Credit: Jekyll & Hyde

Their cocktail menu is as interesting as ever with deals like PB&J, a cocktail with peanut butter and jelly; and The OG B&B, which is a touch inspired by the classic banana and bacon breakfast.

The new Jekyll & Hyde is a welcoming, adult version of his previous self. We have recognized that our customers seek us comfort and sophistication.

That’s why we’ve combined our artisanal cocktails with comfort food that captures a lot of what we like about street food in our region.

– Ee Chien Chua, owner of Jekyll & Hyde

Always “Iterate and test” first

Chua Ee Chien, owner of Jekyll & Hyde
Chua Ee Chien, owner of Jekyll & Hyde / Image credit: Jekyll & Hyde

Looking back on his own journey, Ee Chien said he would not advise anyone who dreams of starting his own business to leave work full time.

As in the tech world, you need to iterate and test before launching a product; therefore, you need to iterate and test your business before doing it full time. Unless you get funding to do it full time, I would say try it slowly on the side.

– Ee Chien Chua, owner of Jekyll & Hyde

Jekyll & Hyde is nothing more than an alternative form of investment in which you can get financial returns in a different way and have fun at the same time.

Aware of the low profit margins of F&B companies, Ee Chien said he is doing business out of passion and personal fulfillment rather than financial gain.

If money was ever a point of contention for him, he would explore other businesses or efforts, he added.

For him, the joy of running Jekyll & Hyde comes with the experience of creating food and drink and a community that makes people happy. When customers leave with a satisfied experience, this gives them a lot of joy and personal satisfaction.

Ee Chien didn’t expect it when he started the move with the business for the first time. Like all other endeavors in his life, he stumbled upon this opportunity, which he ended up doing well and finding meaning.

“I don’t think you pre-plan your dreams and visions before and after following them everywhere. Life does not work that way. Maybe for some people, this is the narrative, but certainly not for me. I am a man of many interests and passions, and I learn and grow with all my efforts, ”he said.

In addition, he credited his excellent time management, high pain tolerance and resistance to hard work as key factors that allowed him to juggle a full-time job and grow an F&B business.

He wakes up at 7.30 in the morning daily and makes sure he does his daily work efficiently. After work, he helps with bar operations.

He also allocates time to exercise regularly on a weekly basis and ensures that he gets enough sleep each day. On weekends you will work a bit, but it is also worth leaving time for recreation and social life.

Ee Chien shared that behind his superhuman motivation and motivation lies his desire to continually challenge himself and drive himself to grow and evolve.

You may be asking me, “What sense does it make to do a side rush if it won’t be my main one?”

My question is, “If we only live once, what’s the point of just doing safe and comfortable things?” The goal of life is to keep growing and evolving the way we can. Knowing is not easy; it is often painful and uncomfortable, but it is infinitely rewarding.

– Ee Chien Chua, owner of Jekyll & Hyde

In the future, Ee Chien is excited to continue to develop its professional experience in financial and technology products. With Jekyll & Hyde, his vision is to establish the business as a benchmark for original artisanal cocktails and fused Singapore recipes.

There are no immediate plans to drop one or the other. The man is determined to eat his cake.

Image credit: Jekyll & Hyde





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