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FOOD & BEVERAGE | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Serving sustainable seafood

Angie's focuses on being environmentally responsible with their food.

People's cravings for seafood have admittedly raised questions with regard to the impact of humans' seafood-eating habits in relation to the ocean's health. It has been noted that healthy ocean ecosystems are important for the earth's health.

"We're focused on sustainable seafood which is just catching on in Asia," says Christopher Lim, Managing Director, Hidden Door Concepts. "It's not the easiest to source and prices are often much higher, but it's environmentally responsible, higher in nutritional value, and absolutely better tasting."

Angie's oysters are air-flown in each day at 1 PM and delivered to the restaurant by 5 PM, says Lim, and their fish is line-caught, not farmed. Their mussels are live from NZ -- never frozen. "We purposefully keep our prices as low as possible to encourage our guests to finish everything everyday," says Lim. "We aren't afraid to run out of stock because that assures our guests that our stock is fresh every day."

While some may see the limited stocks and high prices as a deterrent, Lim says they see it as something positive. "Good things rarely come in unlimited quantities, and even if they do, we often fail to give it due appreciation," he says. "We hope our affordable prices make our guests think twice about sustainable seafood and realize that it's a lifestyle choice they can adopt that isn't as expensive as they might think."

Going for growth

Hidden Door Concepts' first restaurant was founded in 2009. The company has since grown to 12 outlets in its portfolio. Managing director Lim, 33 years old, established the business to check the "start your own company" off his bucket list, and, he says, for the love of eating and drinking. "At worst it would be a hands-on educational experience with the chance to explore an entirely different industry. Fortunately, the business grew faster than expected," he says.

Asked about the things he has learned and problems he has solved in the years since he started his business, Lim states "optimistic naivete, willingness to sacrifice and work hard, regular meals of humble pie, and a lot of luck."

Looking towards the future, Lim notes how the current market is challenging. "That said, difficult times also bring rare opportunities as competition slows down," he says. Historically, he mentions, they've always had unique concepts for each location (one outlet for one concept). They are currently looking to build out multiple outlets for some of our more scaleable concepts. "This is new to us but exciting because it comes with new challenges we haven't thought about before," Lim shares. "Expanding business in lean times also forces us to think smarter and more creatively about areas we've typically taken for granted."

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