We’re profiling female cafe and restaurant owners over the next few months, thanks to the support of Uber Eats. These women are running incredible and innovative food businesses all over Australia, but many have been doing it tough due to the pandemic and in some areas the bushfires.
Here, we meet Jacquie Chan, owner of three Miss Chow’s restaurants in Perth. She shares more on her path to becoming one of Western Australia’s most renowned restaurant owners, and how the restaurants’ cult following has supported them through the pandemic.
When Perth’s dumpling queen Jacquie Chan opened her first restaurant in Perth, she wanted to create a space for diners that wasn’t just trendy, stylish and sexy but welcoming to anyone regardless of their dietary needs.
Jacquie herself fell into the industry because her options for dining out safely were very limited.
“I’ve actually got quite a lot of food allergies,” she said.
“I couldn’t eat in any Asian restaurants because my food allergies were quite bad.”
Keen to open the world of dining out to other foodies like her, she decided to create a restaurant that was safe for people like coeliacs.
Jacquie, a pearl and diamond dealer by trade, was entering a brand new industry but her vision of this iconic restaurant that would be completely nut-free, gluten-free and vegetarian-friendly was too bright to ignore.
After discussing her idea with a client in Melbourne who was in the food industry, Jacquie discovered an open goal in Perth’s market.
“Dumplings became very sexy,” she said.
Instead of setting up an everyday dumpling house, Jacquie wanted to do things differently.
She wanted Miss Chow’s to be a place where people were excited to be.
“I adopted the idea that we could actually have dumplings morning, noon and night with a glass of champagne or a cocktail,” she said.
Jacquie realised she was on to something after opening the first Miss Chow’s in Claremont in 2015.
For six months straight, she worked from morning to night as people queued outside seven days a week.
“Hospitality is a really tough gig,” she said.
“The first restaurant was quite difficult.”
Today, that restaurant has become one of the region’s most iconic venues especially for locals.
“When people think Chinese, they think of us,” she said.
“People from Melbourne always compare us to Chin Chin and people from Sydney compare us to Mr Wong.”
The Claremont store’s popularity made Jacquie want to expand.
Since 2015, she has opened two more Miss Chow’s restaurants, Rice Baby in Subiaco and The Pantry takeaway in City Beach.
“People call us an institution,” she said.
Looking back now, Jacquie’s proudest achievement has been opening the first restaurant.
“I had to learn the business and iron out the kinks operationally,” she said.
“Now that I have learned the business, you troubleshoot a lot quicker. But I’m still learning. I’m still striving to be better.”
Creating a cult following
In many ways, Jacquie’s eye for the exquisite helped blaze her path to becoming one of the state’s most renowned restaurateurs.
Every restaurant she has opened looks and feels slightly different but they all share one commonality.
Miss Chow’s is an extension of Jacquie, her style, candour and passion for food.
The Claremont restaurant was set up to give guests a sense that they were walking into Miss Chow’s home and the Whitford one takes you into her beach house.
“It has a very resort feel,” she said.
The South Perth restaurant, which opened in late 2019 by the river, features high ceilings and stunning views from every table.
“It’s Miss Chow’s city apartment,” she said.
“It feels like you’re in New York. It’s where people want to be seen.
“It’s our newest store but we have been working on it for the past three years.”
Jacquie and her team’s dedication to giving people unforgettable dining experiences from the iconic branding, interior design and mood lighting through to a menu of clean, fresh, authentic Chinese dishes has created a cult following for Miss Chow’s.
Even when the pandemic hit, Jacquie said she was inundated with die-hard fans keen to keep Miss Chow’s group alive.
“I was very, very touched,” she said.
“People come to us for the whole experience. It’s not just for our food.
“We always give them the best.”
Lessons along the way
When 2020 struck, Jacquie had to quickly work out new revenue streams for the business.
She was fortunate being in Western Australia that restaurants weren’t closed down for more than a few months but the downtime allowed her to launch a gluten-free range of frozen dumplings which were an instant hit.
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Have you tried our frozen dumpling range? Find these on shelves from the outlets down below! Farmer Jack’s Claremont Farmer Jack’s Gwelup Farmer Jack’s Subi Farmer Jack’s Landsdale Farmer Jack’s Joondalup IGA Rossmoyne Taylor Road IGA The Boulevard IGA IGA Mt Lawley 2nd Avenue IGA South Fremantle Oriental Market & Grocer The Good Grocer South Perth #foodexpolorer #perthfood #perthmummyblogger #perthvenues #foodieofperth #perthfoods #myopentable #inexology #perthtreats #perthfoodscene #perthfoodiegirls #lifeinwa #perthtodoadventures #perthtourism #dumplingtime #panfrieddumplings #foodrecommendation #asianfood #asiankitchen #asiancusine #foodjunky #asianfoodbloggers #asianfoodlovers #asianfoodies
She has also started exploring a future in retail products like Miss Chow’s sauces.
“It’s not just thinking on your feet but actually executing very quickly your plan B and C,” she said.
“I managed to very quickly navigate and get ourselves out of the pickle.”
A huge part of Miss Chow’s success has come down to some key ingredients.
“The secret is finding a niche and truly believing in your vision,” she said.
“Lifting your game and consistency is easier said than done but it’s crucial in the hospitality game.
“You want your clients telling you ‘I’ve never had a bad meal here’. You know that’s a fact when you see them three times a week.”
Check out stories from more female restaurant owners in this Uber Eats supported series here.