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The New Paper
Aug 3, 2017
Life, both professionally and personally, for former local radio DJ Daniel Ong and American-born Chinese actor-host Allan Wu could not be better.
The New Paper met up with the friends of 10 years and co-owners of local craft beer label Brewlander at Ong's Australian-American casual dining restaurant Rookery's second outlet.
It opened in June in Capitol Tower at Tanjong Pagar with a seating capacity of 100.
The first outlet is in Hong Leong Building at Raffles Quay.
Unique to the second outlet is a beer cold room that allows beers to be served at zero deg C. There are also daily specials, such as $1 coffee with breakfast purchased and $9.90 beers.
The outlet is in talks to be one of the first places to stock all variants of Brewlander, which was launched in March with four brews. Three more - bittersweet porter Respect, gentle N.E.W. (New England wheat) ale Peace and flavourful session IPA (India pale ale) Joy - has since been added to the mix.
Ong, 41, said Brewlander is gaining momentum and profit margins are "all right". It sold 3,600 litres a variant in the initial stages, and many of its distributors are reordering.
It is evident that the men take much pride in their beers, which are brewed by award-winning local brewer John Wei, calling them an "elevated taste" that pairs well with any food, depending on the brew.
The label is Wu's first foray into the food and beverage (F&B) industry, and it was brought on by his love for craft beer, which he learnt to appreciate in his hometown in California.
Brewlander is also distributed in Taipei, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Cambodia, but the duo want to expand to "every single country".
Wu, 45, who has been dubbed by Ong as the "poster boy" of Brewlander, said: "We never really had such a market in Singapore or even South-east Asia. (Craft beers) were starting to gain more traction, so Dan and I thought, 'Why not?'
"I always look forward to (craft beers) in the US, so it is like bringing a taste of home here."
Wu, who has been hosting reality TV series The Amazing Race Asia since its inception in 2006 and is currently filming the fourth season of The Amazing Race China, is not ruling out starting his own food business.
He said: "If I do, it would be something fast moving at a lower cost, like delivering pizza.
"I love Chicago deep-dish pizza. It is not available here because people are health-conscious, but I would give it a shot."For Ong, the F&B industry is one of the toughest, citing manpower shortage and high rental as just some of the woes.
But he thinks that they will survive, adding: "I have always believed that along with great service, if your product is good, consistent and of quality, people will keep coming back."
Ong got divorced from local actress-host Jaime Teo, with whom he has a seven-year-old daughter, last year. He called the time he almost drank himself to death "a blessing in disguise" -it gave him opportunities to focus on entrepreneurship.
He has been hosting gigs and doing motivational speaking too.
He is also the managing director of social media advertising agency Woohoo.Co and renovation and building materials company Danwerkz.
Things are also looking up in the romance department for the single fathers.
Wu, who has two children aged 12 and 10 with ex-wife and former actress Wong Li-Lin, is dating Miss Malaysia World 2012 and model-emcee Yvonne Lee, 29, who came in second in The Amazing Race Asia 5.
Ong is seeing local make-up artist Linda Lee.
Wu said: "Both of us are definitely past that period where we were afraid to try being in a relationship again.
"Time heals everything. It is just a matter of time when you are ready to open up your heart to someone else, and I think we are."