What Goes Into Running A Hawker Stall?It’s Much Harder Than You Think [Chills 132 ft Beng Who Cooks]

The Challenges and Triumphs of Running a Hawker Stall

Jason “Beng” Peng has never done things the traditional way. As the youngest person in Singapore to independently own and operate a hawker stall, Beng was already breaking the mold from a young age. But his entrepreneurial journey was just beginning.

We sat down with Beng to learn how he navigated the tricky world of Singapore’s food business – from starting small at a hawker centre, to opening up his own restaurant venture called Beng Who Cooks. Through it all, Beng’s no-nonsense yet big-hearted approach has kept audiences tuned in.

“A lot of people know me as being very loud,” Beng recalls with a laugh. But beneath the brash exterior lies a drive to succeed against all odds. After cutting his teeth in the boxing ring as a competitive athlete in his youth, Beng was ready to take on a new challenge – becoming his own boss in the food industry.

Making a Mark in the Hawker Scene:

Jason’s journey began when he became the youngest hawker in Singapore to own a stall at the age of 25. His entrepreneurial success caught attention, especially when UNESCO recognized Singapore’s hawker culture. Jason’s vibrant personality and passion for food made him the perfect representative for the younger generation of hawkers. Despite the initial positive coverage, Jason embraced both positive and negative attention, believing that authenticity is key.

The Transition to a Restaurant and Its Demands:

After three years of running the hawker stall, Jason decided to explore the restaurant business. However, operating a restaurant posed different challenges. His Muslim partner’s departure and ongoing operational issues led to the closure of the restaurant. Jason acknowledged that each culinary venture, whether a hawker stall, cafe, bistro, or restaurant, presents unique challenges requiring distinct skill sets.

Beng Who Cooks: Beyond the Brand:

While Beng Who Cooks as a brand has taken a backseat, Jason emphasized that he remains active in the culinary scene. His genuine and unfiltered personality has garnered him a loyal following. Many individuals now know him solely as Beng, reflecting the impact his cooking and outspoken nature have had on his personal brand.

Trust Issues and Support:

Despite gaining significant media coverage, Jason expressed disappointment with the lack of support from his friends. He revealed that only a small fraction of his friends showed up to support his business over the five years of its operation. This experience led him to develop trust issues, but he remains resilient and committed to his passion.

You can check their full interview on Chills, Episode 132 on Spotify, YouTube, or Apple podcast for valuable insights into the demanding world of running a hawker stall and the subsequent challenges of expanding into the restaurant industry. His candid approach to self-expression and unwavering commitment to his craft have made him a prominent figure in Singapore’s culinary scene. Aspiring entrepreneurs and food enthusiasts can draw inspiration from his journey, reminding us that perseverance, authenticity, and adaptability are key ingredients for success in any endeavour.

What you can learn from running a hawker stall F&B business:

1. Running a Hawker Stall: Jason’s experience highlights the multifaceted nature of operating a hawker stall. It requires a blend of culinary skills, business acumen, and adaptability to navigate the competitive and ever-changing landscape.
2. Entrepreneurial Resilience: Jason’s journey showcases the importance of resilience and perseverance in the face of challenges. His ability to adapt and pivot from one venture to another exemplifies the entrepreneurial spirit.
3. Authenticity and Self-Expression: Beng Who Cooks’ success can be attributed to his unwavering authenticity and unapologetic self-expression. By staying true to himself, he has garnered a dedicated following and carved out a unique space in the culinary world.

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