Established in 1961, Yu Kee Group started as a hawker pushcart stall in Nee Soon selling braised duck rice.
Today, the group has over 26 stalls spread across our little red dot, and owns a portfolio of brands such as Penang Kitchen, Shi Jia, and their latest and perhaps most exciting venture: Yu Kee X CHICHA San Chen.
We speak to Kun Miao and Qin Quan, the second-generation owners of Yu Kee Group, to find out what it takes for a simple braised duck stall to succeed in a market as saturated and vibrant as Singapore’s.
Old versus new: Is it a constant struggle?
“We’re thankful that our parents are always receptive to what we suggest,” says Qin Quan, who handles Yu Kee’s business development. Since his teenage years, Qin Quan has been actively helping out with the business, and he formally joined full-time in 2014.
For many family businesses, it’s always a fine balancing act between the old and the new. The younger ones tend to push for novel methods in the name of propelling the business forward in the digital era, while the older folks trust in their tried-and-tested approach.
Both Qin Quan and Kun Miao are well-aware of the struggles that many fellow 2nd-generation owners face, and they express gratitude for their parents’ faith in them, “They’re alright with letting us try, and ultimately, with letting us fail.”
To us, we know it’s good to preserve tradition, but if there’s a better, faster way to do things and still retain what was good, then why not?
Qin Quan, Yu Kee’s 2nd-Generation Owner
From amping up marketing efforts and implementing novel systems to their latest foray into the world of bubble tea with CHICHA San Chen, it’s safe to say that this sibling duo are pretty good at what they do.
It all started with a trip to Taiwan…
Yu Kee Group embarks on a company-wide trip overseas every year, and in 2018, on their trip to Taiwan, they chanced upon the CHICHA San Chen store.
“The way they make their bubble tea is unlike anything we’ve ever seen before,” says Kun Miao, who was thoroughly impressed by how each cup of bubble tea was freshly brewed, and then spruced up with a delicately-tied piece of twine.
When we came back to Singapore, we instantly shot the CHICHA San Chen Taiwan team an email… and the rest is history.
Kun Miao, Yu Kee’s 2nd-Generation Owner
In just 2 years, the bubble tea chain has amassed a huge following locally, opening its 13th outlet at Waterway Point earlier in July this year.
Don’t knock it till you try it
At this point, you might be wondering: do duck-rice and bubble tea even go together?
Take it from the sibling duo who have quite literally grown up on braised duck rice, and order a refreshing cup of CHICHA San Chen’s Tea with Mango ($5.70) to accompany your next plate of comforting braised duck rice. According to Miao and many other customers, this combination is one that’s “damn good”.