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“The Canteen of Hong Kong”

“Our choice of the Chinese brand name, 大家樂 (Everyone Happy), reflects clearly the dream of our corporation: Customers, staff and shareholders are all happily united as one,” said Sunny HK Lo, Chairman of the Cafe de Coral Group.

Found across the city, the Cafe de Coral restaurant chain is committed to serving quality food at an affordable price to Hong Kong people.

When it opened in 1968, Cafe de Coral was a small self-service restaurant. As it celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, the Group is a household name in Hong Kong, and its 355 outlets in the city serve more than 300,000 people every day. 

“Cafe de Coral was, is, and will be the canteen of Hong Kong people, providing them with breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner,” Lo said.

This philosophy has also lent its name to the book published by Cafe de Coral to celebrate the Group’s anniversary. “The Big Canteen of Hong Kong People” tells the story of the history of the company and the development of the restaurant sector in Hong Kong over half a century.

Lo explained that the expectations of customers have evolved over the past five decades. Today, they are not just looking for good food at a reasonable price, but they also want diversity in the range of dishes available. So Cafe de Coral has worked hard to keep things fresh, with daily menus on rotation so even the most frequent diners have a variety of options every time they visit. 

He also pointed out that Cafe de Coral was the first fast-food restaurant to offer a “one-man hotpot” on its menu. This transformed hotpot into an affordable and accessible choice for everyone including solo diners – with no need to gather a large group to enjoy this warming winter dish.

Even popular classics are refined and improved. Lo gave the example of the recipe for “baked pork chop rice” which has been revised four times to improve the taste.

Besides its Cafe de Coral branded restaurants, the Group also owns a number of other popular restaurant chains – including The Spaghetti House, Super Super Congee & Noodles, Mixian Sense, Oliver’s Super Sandwiches and Shanghai Lao Lao – which provide diners with a wide variety of options. So what is the secret to creating so many successful brands?

“It is our long-standing commitment to the product quality and service excellence which has earned us the trust of the Hong Kong people,” Lo said.

This service excellence has long been a key philosophy of the Group. To illustrate, Lo recalled the difficult times during the SARS outbreak in 2003. Like many restaurant businesses, it suffered from the economic impact of the downturn. But as a major meal contractor for a number of public hospitals, Cafe de Coral had additional risks.

“Our staff delivered the meals directly to the wards, including the high-risk infectious 8A Ward in the Prince of Wales Hospital,” Lo said.

As well as serving hospital staff throughout the crisis, Cafe de Coral also maintained its service to citizens in the residential Amoy Gardens quarantined area.

Lo expressed his deep gratitude to the staff whose hard work helped the company survive during that that period. “Cafe de Coral’s reputation as a reliable catering group with excellent service owes much to our team,” he said. 

Excellent service is often a reflection of a company culture that creates happy and motivated staff. Lo pointed out that looking after staff members is crucial in such a large business – the group has 19,000 employees.

“There are three essential factors in the success of human resources management,” he said. “They are: a no-hierarchy corporate culture, encouragement of learning opportunities, and good welfare.”

Under this management philosophy, staff are encouraged to be creative and innovative, and will not be blamed if their ideas are not successful, Lo said. The company also offers several subsidy schemes to enable staff to pursue work-related professional training, and also has scholarships available to support the children of staff to enter higher education.

The Group takes its commitment to being a “corporate citizen” very seriously. It provides employment to about 400 physically or mentally challenged individuals, who are mentored by experienced staff members.

Cafe de Coral is not just a local concern – it has around 100 branches in Mainland China. Even before the establishment of the Greater Bay Area, it had outlets in the GBA’s nine Mainland cities. This far-sighted strategy, in addition to its strong foundations of service and quality, will help the company continue its success in the next 50 years. 

 

Company: Cafe de Coral Holdings Ltd

HKGCC Membership No.: HKC0022

Established: 1968

Website: www.cafedecoral.com

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