THE Malaysian F&B industry has always been a vibrant playground of flavours and experiences, with each venue vying to serve up a unique concoction of food, drinks and entertainment. In the heart of this dynamic landscape stands Kelvin Lam, a visionary who has carved his niche in this multifaceted industry. Armed with an advanced diploma in hotel management from Taylor’s College, Lam boasts a comprehensive operational and technical knowledge gained from a top-tier university, setting the stage for his illustrious career in hospitality and tourism.
Lam’s journey into the F&B industry started with a splash as he donned the hat of hotelier right after graduating, with prestigious positions at renowned 5-star hotels like Renaissance Kuala Lumpur Hotel & Convention Centre, New World Wings, JW Marriott Hotel Seoul and JW Marriott Nara.
His early days were akin to a buffet of experiences, learning the ropes of customer service and mastering the art of the kitchen. But his appetite for challenges led him through the corridors of not one but a few other hotels before he decided to embark on his own adventure.
Over the course of 22 years, Lam’s passion has seen him managing an array of clubs, from giant live music venues to a developer company where he oversaw property management and managed multiple departments from A-Z. His dedication and innovation in the industry have been recognised with multiple awards, including the prestigious “Excellent Entrepreneur Federation” award in 2019, a testament to his outstanding contributions to the ever-evolving world of F&B.
“I always knew this was my path,“ said Lam, reflecting on his journey from humble beginnings. “Starting small, I understood that experience is the best teacher. It’s all about extending and growing, and even today, I’m still on that delightful journey to be the best in the business.”
Adapting to changing tastes
In the time he’s spent navigating the F&B seas, Lam has witnessed significant changes. “The competition has become fiercer,“ he admits, “but I’ve always known this industry isn’t a cakewalk. All my experiences have prepared me for this. Learning is the best process, and I’ve adapted to every change, trying harder each time.”
Challenges, however, have always been part and parcel of this industry. Lam has battled inflation, grappled with reduced customer buying power and faced the ever-persistent struggle of hiring, retaining and training staff. “Navigating through them was all about flexibility and finding innovative solutions,“ he shares with a grin.
The recipe for success: Innovation and adaptation
Innovation, indeed, is the secret sauce in the recipe for his success. Lam’s ideas have constantly included levelled up customer service, healthier menu options, innovative branding and social media and the availability of special offers to keep customers coming back for more.
As a seasoned F&B entrepreneur, Lam has embarked on numerous successful projects, all driven by clear goals and meticulous planning. “I break down large tasks into smaller chunks,“ he reveals, “making it easier to know where to start. Detailed planning ensures that important projects go smoothly.”
Risk management and decision-making
But what about those moments of uncertainty? In an industry where every decision can be a high-stakes gamble, Lam’s approach is proactive risk management. “We stay updated on industry trends, diversify revenue streams and maintain robust contingency plans. Data-driven insights and consultations with our experienced team help minimise risks,“ he confidently shares.
Cultivating a winning team
Employee training and retention, often a headache in the F&B sector, have been key to Lam’s success. “Open communication, employee recognition and competitive compensation foster a positive work environment,“ he asserts. “Continuous training and growth opportunities ensure our team remains motivated and committed to delivering exceptional service.”
In the midst of managing a flourishing career, Lam admits that he does face the challenge of balancing work and family. It’s a juggling act that many entrepreneurs can relate to, but he is quick to acknowledge that his unwavering support system at home has been the linchpin of his success. With gratitude in his voice, he reveals that it’s his wife who has stood by him from the very beginning, providing him with the strength and willpower to keep forging ahead, even during the toughest of times.
Her trust in his dreams and unwavering support have been the secret ingredients that have fortified Kelvin’s journey, and he takes every opportunity to express his heartfelt appreciation for the rock-solid foundation she has provided throughout his remarkable career.
Words of wisdom
For aspiring entrepreneurs or professionals looking to leave their mark in the F&B field, Lam offers sage advice:
“An entrepreneur is someone driven by a vision, determined to bring it to life. Success demands ambition, a strong work ethic, inspiration and unwavering motivation. Building a startup, especially one growing as rapidly as Tinder, is a challenging endeavor. It necessitates giving your all and unwavering commitment. The drive to solve the problem at hand must be deeply personal; otherwise, your efforts may crumble. It’s crucial not to constrain your potential. Many individuals limit themselves by their perceived capabilities. The truth is, your potential knows no bounds, limited only by the confines of your own mind. Remember this: what you believe, you can achieve.”
A taste of the future
Listening to Lam’s life experiences is nothing short of fascinating. His humility and passion are the secret ingredients that have propelled him to the forefront of the Malaysian F&B scene.
In a world where the F&B and entertainment industry is a constantly evolving sector, Lam stands as a testament to the power of passion, innovation and perseverance. His story is not just about building a successful career; it’s about crafting a legacy in an industry that’s forever changing its recipe for success.
With ongoing and upcoming investments in entertainment projects like BlackOut Live Music Club and Meet Exclusive & Private Entertainment Centre, Lam is poised to leave an even more indelible mark on the landscape. As Malaysia’s F&B and entertainment scene continues to evolve, we can be sure that Kelvin Lam will be there, cooking up exciting new experiences for all to savour.