Andrew Yap, Co-Founder + Managing Partner of The Old Man Singapore
Over the years, I’ve learnt that the level of hospitality and service can make or break
guests’ experience,” says Andrew Yap, co-founder and managing partner of The Old Man Singapore. That lesson was learnt through a career spanning 20 years – from first working as a waiter at Shangri-La Rasa Sayang Resort and Feringgi Grill Fine Dining in his native Penang, Malaysia, to joining The Ritz-Carlton Millenia, Singapore as a restaurant captain in 1997. He eventually did a stint in Hong Kong, before returning to Singapore in 2015 to work at Neon Pigeon.
Three years later, he established The Old Man Singapore, bringing the original Hong Kong bar – ranked 1 on Asia’s 50 Best Bars list 2019 – to our sunny shores. “Singapore is Asia’s cocktail capital. There’s no better place to be,” Andrew says about launching The Old Man’s second location, which placed #22 on the Asia’s 50 Best Bars list in 2020. “The venue philosophy is simple: ‘What would Hemingway drink?’,” shares the father of two – Hayley, 14, and Lucas, 12 – with his wife Cecelia. “The menu is driven by Hemingway’s libations of choice – all our cocktails are titled after his classic novels.” On top of that, the drinks have a distinctively Asian twist, thanks to the modern culinary techniques used like fat-washing and rotary evaporation and ingredients featured such as curry leaf-infused bulldog gin or smoked pandan vermouth and kaffir lime.
While The Old Man Singapore takes decor cues from the Hong Kong bar, the SG outpost is three times its size and run independently by Andrew. (Lest you think him a franchisee or backed by a big management company, he has invested his own money into the business.) “I consider it a blessing for our business to make it through the pandemic,” says Andrew, whose creative ideas to stay afloat earned him the Innovation Award (Business Transformation). Two key examples: He launched a Bars Unknown concept last year to meet patrons’ unrequited desire to travel. The series of collaborative pop-ups featured signature cocktails from acclaimed bars around the world, such as the Little Red Door in Paris and El Copitas in St. Petersburg. He also started a takeaway service of bottled cocktails even before the 2020 circuit breaker. “We started having more new customers order from us, as they really enjoy our drinks,” he says.
Started in 2017 by The Finder, the Expatpreneur Awards are intended to honour hard-working, successful, community-minded foreign-born business owners in Singapore. All winners must exhibit how their businesses help people “live well in Singapore” – The Finder’s own mission. This year, marks the fifth annual awards. Find out more here.
By K Praveena