Raising The Bar
    Category: Forbes Life By : Leighton Cosseboom Read : 3099 Date : Tuesday, August 19, 2014 - 07:25:03

    Courtesy of 1914

    The 1914 complex is like a sophisticated playground for grownups. Set in the beautifully renovated French Consulate building in Surabaya, it boasts three restaurants and five bars, all under one roof. Opened on February 1, 1914 has quickly become the in-place for Surabaya’s business elite and socialites.

    Antony Harsono, founding partner at 1914, can often be found at the Habana Whisky & Cigar bar at the front of the complex. With a tumbler of Johnnie Walker King George V in one hand, and a Cuban cigar in the other, he says: “I find that the F&B business will gain you a lot of connections and networking opportunities. Sure there’s risk, but if you have a strong team, it shouldn’t be a problem.”

    Antony’s family owns 25% of PT 1914 Surboyo, the holding company for the complex, and another 31 shareholders share the rest. The Harsono family is better known as owners of the Samator group, a leading industrial gas producer, but they have started to diversify into lifestyle businesses such as the 1914 and hotels. The other shareholders are all local Surabaya residents, ranging in age from 20 to 50 (Antony is 28), who put in a total of Rp 20 billion to launch the 1914.

    President Director Hari Setiawan says having so many investors has been the key to 1914’s initial success and popularity. As he pauses between sips in the Hemingway’s Rum Bar, Hari explains: “We have a lot of shareholders because we wanted to launch 1914 with a large network of friends and customers. The more people we can invite into the project, the more who will want to come spend time here and bring friends.” He estimates between 500 and 600 customers visit 1914 on weekends, and claims that at this rate it should take two to three years before the business reaches breakeven. “But we’ve had positive cash flow since day one so that’s encouraging,” says Antony.

    The 1914 has a wide range to suit many tastes and budgets. At the Chicago Steak House and Julep Bar, a grilled chicken wrap might cost only Rp 75,000 but the wagyu steak costs Rp 700,000. It’s the same for the drinks. At Chicago, you can also buy a bottle of Ron Zacapa XO rum for Rp 2.8 million or just a glass of Tanqueray gin for Rp 70,000.