Restaurant cluster Savourworld at Science Park Drive to open in October

Chief executive officer of Savourworld Michel Lu says for the space to be viable, it needs to attract the crowds at night and on weekends.
Chief executive officer of Savourworld Michel Lu says for the space to be viable, it needs to attract the crowds at night and on weekends.PHOTO: DON WONG FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Besides providing a one-stop epicurean experience, the restaurant cluster in Science Park Drive will also hold food and drink events

After a two-month delay, Savourworld, a restaurant cluster at 2 Science Park Drive, is on track to give diners a one-stop epicurean experience complete with restaurants, bars, gourmet events and bustling entertainment options in October.

The sprawling 60,000 sq ft dining enclave, which is part of office building Ascent, is a three-minute walk from Kent Ridge MRT station.

Over the past six months, eateries at Savourworld have been opening gradually - one or two every month. Currently, the dining zone is about half occupied, with 15 eateries operating. The eateries include home-grown coffee joint Coffee Break, Chinese restaurant Blue Lotus Chinese Noodle Bar, Turkish restaurant Ottoman Kebab & Grill, Tex-Mex cafe Spruce and ice cream parlour Licktionary.

By next month, four more eateries will open. They are Tokyo Joe, a donburi eatery by day and izakaya bar by night; Wildfire Chicken & Burgers, a fried chicken restaurant; Uncommon Grounds cafe, which serves coffee and grilled cheese sandwiches and Indonesian restaurant Indochili. Diners can order dishes from multiple restaurants within the cluster.

Savourworld is a $10-million joint venture between events company Savour's executive director Darren Chen, 38, and Mr Michel Lu, 48, executive chairman of boutique consultancy Revolver Asia. On the delayed opening, Mr Lu, who is also chief executive officer of Savourworld, says the staggered renovation schedules of each tenant, which operates independently, makes it tough to coordinate.

"Some of the eateries face a lack of manpower to run their expanded operations, so the restaurants open as and when they are ready to serve the office crowd in the Ascent building, which was fully occupied by June."

Mr Lu notes a strong lunchtime crowd from office workers in the Science Park business zone and National University Hospital and students and staff from National University of Singapore.

Savourworld was about 70 per cent filled with diners when The Straits Times visited during lunchtime on Monday.

"There is a captive lunchtime crowd here, but for the space to be viable, it needs to attract customers at night and during the weekends or I might as well open a food court," he adds.

Besides office workers in the vicinity, Mr Lu is also targeting the residential catchment within a 10-minute-drive radius from areas such as Holland Village and Bukit Timah.

To achieve this, he is banking on the 250-seat outdoor courtyard as a "dynamic space", where diners can chill out with drinks and live DJ acts from next month. There are plans to bring in live comedy shows and masterclasses helmed by overseas chefs.

Savourworld started operating on Saturdays, with the opening of craft beer purveyor The Good Beer Company last Saturday. Another tenant, Blotto Bottles and LAB, serves wine and cocktails. The cluster will open seven days a week when it is fully launched in October.

Another way of drawing crowds is the line-up of monthly food and drink events that will be held at its 13,000 sq ft event hall that can fit up to 1,500 people. The space will debut with food and beer festival Oktoberfest in October and will also host gourmet events by Savour.

To give people an extra incentive to visit, about one-third of the eateries are new-to-market, which means diners will be the first to test new food concepts.

These eateries are part of a six- month-long incubation programme, in which units are leased out at affordable rental rates .

They include Ramen Atelier, which sells French-Japanese style ramen such as duck confit maze- men (dry ramen) and ramen noir, which is made with squid ink miso stock. There is also Modus, a quinoa-bowl joint that sells dishes such as grilled salmon with quinoa and burnt miso butterscotch salad.

Diners like that Savourworld adds vibrancy to the food options in the neighbourhood, but point out that the food prices are rather high for everyday dining. The average cost for one person ranges from $10 to $20 for lunch and from $20 for dinner.

Sales director Albinus Saw, 43, says: "The bars are great for chilling out after work, but I hope there can be more breakfast and lunch options that are below $10."

E-commerce manager Qian Lei, 25, says: "The eateries here provide a better ambience than the nearby food courts, and have a good mix of cuisines."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2017, with the headline 'Savourworld set to fully open in October'. Print Edition | Subscribe