Three-storey F&B venue set to open at Ann Siang Hill amid tough Covid-19 climate

Founders of Honcho Wayne Liu (left) and Amos Poh on the first floor. Most of venue is still under construction.
Founders of Honcho Wayne Liu (left) and Amos Poh on the first floor. Most of venue is still under construction.ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

SINGAPORE - At Honcho, not one but three food and beverage (F&B) concepts are on the menu in an ambitious $1 million project by top local turntablist DJ KoFlow and fintech entrepreneur Amos Poh.

Located in a shophouse in Ann Siang Hill, the venue - slated to open in December - will have a cocktail bar in the basement, a modern izakaya-style Japanese restaurant on the first floor, and a craft beer-centric rooftop bar.

When asked why the pair decided to brave the challenging F&B climate, DJ KoFlow, whose real name is Mr Wayne Liu, said: "If not now, then when?

"We are taking the opportunity to move in when we can find a great location and space... We're also trying to come in and fill the void of all the people who have left."

Named after the Japanese expression for squad leader, Honcho has hired almost 30 staff. Many of them are from the industry, including the now-shuttered Canvas club in Boat Quay, and Singapore's largest nightclub Marquee, which has been in hibernation since March 2020.

Honcho will also highlight home-grown brands, with the rooftop tapping craft beers by brewer Off Day and the basement bar featuring some cocktails made in collaboration with award-winning bar Native in Amoy Street.

Honcho is opening at a point when Covid-19 restrictions are easing, with travel opening up progressively and recorded music allowed to resume at eateries.

"We came in at the right time, when things are just about to open, and we want to be right there when things open up fully," said Mr Liu, who also hopes the venue will be a place where creative people can network.

Opening under the latest dining-in restrictions - which is capped at five fully vaccinated people who can be from different households - will also be a "good test" of their capabilities, said Mr Poh who added that they are "prepared for the worst".

"We have contingencies for deliveries, as well as reserves to tide us over, in case restrictions tighten again," he said.

Mr Poh noted that Singapore's roll-out of more vaccinated travel lanes is likely to see more people taking trips abroad, leading to a possible drop in domestic spending.

"But you have to then allow tourists to come in... We are tourist-ready," he added.

Mr Liu, who is best known for his DJ sets at nightclubs like Zouk and farther afield in China, is even more hopeful.

"When we do get to phase three, hopefully we can throw parties then... just like the old days," he said.