Family culture helps Kuriya retain staff

HIGH-END Japanese restaurant Kuriya Dining at Great World City has seen only one full-time staff quit in the past year.

The restaurant has about 35 staff members, and six are Singaporeans.Its longest-serving staff member is Ms Lee Yock Eng, 46, a Malaysian who joined as a waitress in 2002 and is now a senior service staff. Seven other staff have been at Kuriya for more than six years.

Mr Takahiko Tsutsui, director of Kuriya Dining's parent company RE&S Enterprises, said its family culture plays a major part in helping to retain staff. "Our master chef Naoki Tsuzuki has been with Kuriya Dining for over 11 years. He always has his ear to the ground, communicating with the staff and sharing their concerns."

A waiter's salary starts from $1,400, and this can go up to $1,800 with allowances.

At Kuriya Dining, which was established in 2001, a waiter's progression in terms of salary and rank depends on the individual's calibre, said Mr Tsutsui. A waiter can become a management trainee in two years, and an assistant manager in another two years.

Mr Tsutsui said: "Apart from compensation, we also have a management associate programme whereby selected candidates are sent for extra-curricular (non-technical) courses."

These include visual merchandising and social media marketing, to "broaden their perspectives and enhance their skill sets".

Staff feel valued because RE&S takes their career path seriously, he added, and it provides plenty of opportunities for talented staff to advance to higher positions.

These include job rotation and the chance to work at various dining concepts that RE&S operates, including Ichiban Boshi and Japanese food street Shokutsu 10.

"We are very proud of our long-serving staff who rise to middle management positions or beyond through this process."

But Mr Tsutsui noted that not many Singaporeans and permanent residents are willing to enter the food and beverage industry, and the pool of available manpower is not growing in tandem with the growth of the country.

"We foresee that competition for human resources in the food and beverage industry will become more acute over time, and this will have a negative impact on business performance."

RACHAEL BOON