Case Study Expansion of A Peranakan Restaurant

Dulu Kala

Established in 1999, Dulu Kala Peranakan Restaurant (“Dulu Kala”) is a family-run restaurant that provides customers with authentic, home-cooked Peranakan cuisines. Dulu Kala provides customers with an affordable, fuss-free, down-to-earth dining experience in the comfort of dining in a homely setting.

The name “Dulu Kala” is a Malay word, which means ‘in the past’ when loosely translated into English. With recipes passed down from generation to generation, Dulu Kala reminisce how Peranakan food was prepared by the Bibiks in the past. With strong emphasis on the use of the freshest ingredients, cooked to perfection so that it tantalizes customers with the combination of colour, smell and taste, Dulu Kala symbolizes rustic feel and brings back old nostalgic memories for its older diners.

Located at Beauty World Centre along Upper Bukit Timah Road, the restaurant is able to serve up to 16 tables with a capacity of 80 customers at any one time. Over the years, Dulu Kala has implemented more efficient and effective operations, implementing Point-of-Sales systems, restructured the workforce and increase hiring. These have led to improvement in service efficiency and in turn, increase in sales volume, improved customer satisfaction and growth in customer base.

Faced with increasing competition due to the recent exposure (in 2010) of Singaporeans to Peranakan culture and food, due to the popularity of the TCS drama series of “The Little Nyonya”, Dulu Kala aims to reach out to the growing younger generation by educating them on the true taste of Peranakan cuisines. Achieving this will allow Dulu Kala to have a sustainable growth of local customers and market share.

Leveraging on the success of its product offerings, growing customer base and the need to attract young diners in a more trendy and contemporary setting, Dulu Kala started to strategize her business expansion by re-designing their approach to meet the changing needs of the industry, while retaining their most prized asset – their well-received recipes and friendly customer service standards.

Dulu Kala DishesDulu Kala Menu

Keeping the Old, While Creating the New

Two new brands were conceptualized and launched to meet these market changes and customers’ expectations. Tingkat Nyonya Express Dining – catered for mass market with more affordable Peranakan offerings in a food court or kiosk setting; and Onya Sayang – catered for restaurant goers and families in a contemporary setting while integrating the Peranakan spirit and environment.

Tingkat Nyonya Express Dining is the brain child of current management – Mr. Zan Ho. After a detailed market research and customer survey conducted by a group of SMU (Singapore Management University) students – as part of their project assignment – these critical information was instrumental in the conceptualization of what customers expect, the offerings, the pricing, the customers’ engagement experience, amongst others. This concept was launched successfully in Tampines Mall in 2011, allowing customers to have first-hand experience of tasting Peranakan food in a quick-serve manner, with set meals available in a choose-and-match ordering system.

With this launch, Dulu Kala had created a new market segment of quick-serve Peranakan food in Singapore and rolled out its franchising initiatives for the Tingkat Nyonya Express Dining concept, which had been adopted and expanded to West Mall food court.

To achieve their vision of being a name synonymous with Peranakan home dining, Dulu Kala needs to create new demand of its offerings, both in the young and mass market crowd – which is met by the positioning of

Renovation of Tampines Mall

Tingkat Nyonya Express Dining, as well as the middle income PMEBs and families who visit the shopping malls and are looking for a comfortable environment.

This inspired the management team to reinvent their existing restaurant concept at Beauty World Centre and build upon their success of catering to the young and mass market crowd. The end result is the conceptualization and launch of Onya Sayang – in June 2012 – at the revamped Tampines Mall to serve this segment of the market.

While the various concepts – Dulu Kala, Tingkat Nyonya Express and Onya Sayang – cater to different market segments, they all serve the same objectives for this family-run organization which has reinvented itself to meet changing trends. In doing so, Dulu Kala continues to:

• Serving the best and most authentic Peranakan food with emphasis on color, smell and taste;

• Retaining authenticity to serve the next generation of food lovers;

• Educating the next generation of food lovers on authentic Peranakan dining; and

• Achieving top service quality by being friendly, efficient and effective.

Franchising with the New, While Riding with the TraditionAuthentic Peranakan Food

With the success of both Tingkat Nyonya Express Dining and more recently, Onya Sayang, Dulu Kala is confident that these new concepts can be translated to a sustainable business model through franchising in Singapore and the region. This is further validated by the successful franchise outlet at West Mall, which lends proof to their belief.

Management leveraged on her consistent food quality and well-received recipes of Peranakan food offering, yet identified that to grow its operations, there is a constant need to reinvent themselves to meet the changing market and customers’ needs. The result is the birth of new concepts, with strong foundations in tradition.

With the franchise blueprint developed and in place, the various concepts offer franchisees business support and consistent food quality standards. The support will also come from the management team who will guide the franchisees on business directions and improvements in the food menu and restaurant operations. Dulu Kala has shown that franchising can be done by Keeping the Old, while Creating the New.

Gary LohGary Loh is the Director of Purpleclay Consulting Pte Ltd, which is a franchise consultancy firm and grant application specialist. Purpleclay Consulting has assisted many promising franchise brands for local and overseas expansion, as well as assisting these brands in winning various business accolades and awards. This company is an approved SCOPE-IP Business Consultant under the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) and an I-Advisor under International Enterprise Singapore (IE Singapore).

Gary can be reached at +65 6561 3011 or email at contact@ For more information, visit

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