The SME Series - Blu Kouzina

28/09/2017 By Piers Lee

The Tsakiris family set up the Blu Kouzina Mediterranean-themed restaurant in 2010. Like many successful enterprises, Blu Kouzina (Greek for ‘Blue Kitchen’) was founded on a passion for a product (the Mediterranean dishes), food preparation (involving the freshest of ingredients), and the dining experience.

Initially catering to friends at home, the popularity of this relatively unusual cuisine in Singapore prompted the Tsakiris family to open their first restaurant in a converted shop house in Bukit Timah – they did no market research for the business and there was not much business planning or promotion. While most new businesses try to ramp up promotions early in their foundation, the marketing for Blu Kouzina was entirely by word-of-mouth, no advertising, no social media activity, and they purposely avoided promotions or discounts as this was seen to “send out the wrong message” about their product.

The secret of many successful businesses can be attention to detail, and for restaurants, this comes partly from attention towards the ‘top of the food chain’. Blu Kouzina put considerable effort into sourcing the freshest ingredients globally - the management can spend up to five hours each day just in the procurement and shipping of ingredients to their restaurant, most of it air-freighted to Singapore. Chickens come from France, fish and wine from Greece, lamb and beef from New Zealand, all served up fresh in Singapore.

But the business is changing. Firstly, it is the clientele – initially 70-80% of patrons to Blu Kouzina were Western expats, but now this is less than 10%. Like many sectors in Singapore, businesses now serve more expatriates from within Asia itself, where Mediterranean food has an even higher novelty value. But secondly, it is the new generation of foodies that restaurants need to cater for.

The Millennial Generation (those reaching adulthood in the early 21st Century) are looking for a different experience from food. Increasingly this generation is shunning the traditional fine dining experience, often because their attention span cannot last two hours in a restaurant! Consequently, restaurants are seeing a decline in the ‘eating in’ trade and therefore will need to switch their business models to cater more towards home delivery. Millennials want to eat at home and seek other forms of entertainment outside of the home, e.g. bars or clubs.

But this creates new opportunities for restaurants. ‘Restaurants’ will no longer need so many tables and chairs, but more kitchens supplied with good ingredients, menus, and chefs. A new branch of Blu Kouzina’s business is to have strategically located kitchens supported with a delivery service. Deliveroo is now providing such facilities whereby they supply kitchens to restaurants in shared facilities, the delivery service, the marketing, and simply take a share of the revenue from each enterprise in the facility. This business model, named Deliveroo Editions, works well for the restaurants as it allows them to increase their geographic reach without the risks and expenses of opening new premises, and clearly, for Deliveroo it rapidly increases their own share of the market. It can also be an effective international expansion business model for restaurants - Blu Kouzina are eying the Hong Kong market, another high density, affluent, and import friendly market where the concept should work equally well.

But innovation does not stop there, a new segment of the market that is developing is ‘Fast Casual’ cuisine. More affluent consumers are moving away from S$5.00 value meals to S$12.00 Fast Casual menus with much healthier ingredients. Proof of concept will come in demand for this cuisine in the delivery business (a type of market test) and if this catches on, Blu Kouzina will consider opening outlets of their Mediterranean Fast Casual concept.

While market research played no role in establishing the Blu Kouzina business, it can certainly help them in understanding their new markets. As they venture to new markets, there are so many new variables that could impact their business, and they recognise the need for research in new geographies.

BVA BDRC specialises in F&B research and we are continually looking at the changing landscape of dining habits of people living in Singapore. We can assist companies in their overseas expansion by undertaking research in client’s less familiar markets. Our Route2Market research approach examining market sizes, segments, and competition, helping clients to manage risk and maximise opportunity. Please contact to find out more.