Straits Clan's general manager, Bede Hunt, on what goes on behind the scenes at Singapore's newest private members' club
In his shoes
Here's what we know about the hottest, new majestic (see what we did there?) entry down at Bukit Pasoh Road so far: the Straits Clan stands as a private members' club; fitted out with dining concepts, a swanky bar complete with a courtyard, a reflexology-focused spa, a gym, and other entertainment venues replete with karaoke, DJ consoles, and nostalgic arcade games. Oh, there's also a charming attic that serves as an event space (which is open to the public) to host and make merry.
In a nutshell, it's the dream haven to work, unwind, network, while keeping to a local twang with new-old nuances of traditional tiles and sleek wood filling up the entire space.
We ought to know. After all we at Buro, have been lucky enough to call the exclusive club our latest pop-up office (for close to a month now). And soon, it dawned upon us that there's more than meets the eye than just instagrammable interiors, stellar dining options, and a playlist curated with a good case of the blues. The heart of Straits Clan falls back on the people — from the staff, to the members, and to wide-eyed visitors. Just ask Straits Clan's general manager, Bede Hunt.
The man acts as the eyes, ears, nose, and limbs of the place. Hunt wears many hats — from approving budgets, club signs, gym facilities, overseeing the F&B programme, to meeting members and getting to know them. But first and foremost, his role is to create that warm, genuine environment for their members to feel like it's home. "To me, that is the key to the success of this property. You've got content, cool programming, and a gorgeous space, but the actual people are what's going to separate us from any other concept," Hunt muses.
"You've got content, cool programming, and a gorgeous space, but the actual people are what's going to separate us from any other concept."
Previously trained as a chef in Sydney, Hunt found his calling in hospitality when he discovered that he enjoyed being in the front-of-house more than being in a kitchen. Six weeks ago, he made the big move to Singapore, to assume the general manager role here at Straits Clan. Certainly, he's rolling with where the winds take him. "I'm here for the adventure," beams Hunt, who's suited up in a casual grey blazer, over his usual smart workwear. Below, we uncover the ins and outs of a typical day at Straits Clan, in the expeditious shoes of Bede Hunt.
I wake up before dawn breaks, and make my way into the city to go the gym. This is something I abide by, a foolproof way to get my daily dose of endorphins, while keeping myself healthy and fit.
I stop for a cup of coffee and to see my good friends at The Lokal. We support each other like one big family; I think it's important to maintain those relationships especially since we're in the same neighbourhood.
I get to work and jump right in. By that I mean, bursting through the doors and going, "Hello everyone!". I do a walk around the venue, making sure that I give everyone hi-fives. Energy is one of the most important attributes that a leader or manager should bring to a property. By injecting energy from within, it will come through to every guest that walks through the doors. It's about maintaining that level of positivity and enthusiasm. That is what hospitality is all about.
"I do a walk around the venue, making sure that I give everyone hi-fives. Energy is one of the most important attributes that a leader or manager should bring to a property."
I check in with the team to see how they're feeling and what they need. I do a quick check on my emails, before heading to my first meeting. As a team, we have a creative workshop to better improve [ourselves] based on the feedback that we garner. This happens about once a week — sorting out the nuts and bolts, whether it's introducing little things like decaf coffee or fresh coconuts.
Time for lunch with one of the members at the Clan Café. My favourite thing to order? The quinoa crusted chicken grain bowl that comes steeped in chicken broth. It's the best, and also a kueh salat, because I have a sweet tooth. During lunch, I check up on how he's settling in, and if there's anything we can improve on.
I chug down another shot of caffeine at the Clan Café and then pop upstairs to the gym. Based on feedback I've heard from a few members, I had organised for a better variety of weights as well as some really cool AirTech bikes to be installed. After checking on its status, I leave the task to my trusty concierge and facilities manager, Yasmine, who takes care of our operating partners.
I then visit our executive chef David Thien at The Dining Room, just to make sure he has everything he needs. When it comes to overseeing the F&B concepts, my role is more of a supporting one — given our linkage to the amazing Lo & Behold Group, we have assembled an impressive line up of F&B industry specialists so I let them do what they do best. I'm the singular person that has access to a helicopter view of what's happening as well as the direct link to our stakeholders. Having spent the past 13 years working in every facet of the hospitality industry, I'm acutely aware that supporting and caring for your team is a number one priority. Making time to listen with intent, to build trust and support each other is imperative to any successful endeavour. My daily focus is to fuel the fire that burns in everyone's belly so they feel energised and empowered to confidently tackle any challenge that comes their way. This helps me aid David in making decisions, whether it be a slight adjustment to the menu or improving the members' experience.
Back to looking at my emails. While I usually work in our designated office, sometimes I like to hide out in one of the meeting rooms (if no one is occupying it) or at the Clan Café. I like to mix it up a bit especially when I need to think of a solution for an urgent problem.
"As much as I try to create structure in my day, it's best to go with the flow especially with a job like this."
As much as I try to create structure in my day, it's best to go with the flow especially with a job like this. A group of members that I've grown close to, spontaneously invites me to join them at the bar upstairs for a drink. It's hard to say no to a negroni — my personal favourite rendition is a classic negroni topped with French champagne. We chat and I update them on what's to be expected here at our official opening party, which is happening tomorrow night [31 May].
I do a quick walk around The Dining Room, which is usually full-house on Saturdays. I stop by every table to see if everyone is having a good time. The role I play is that buffer zone, to make sure the feedback is being handled well and also being built into the review cycle.
I check in with my staff on the floor just to wrap things up for the day. It's important that I empower them to embody the vision that I have for Straits Clan. At the end of the day, it's about refueling that energy within them; before I head home to recharge myself for the next eventful day.