In a sudden turn of events, Ashes Burnnit, a beloved burger chain hailing from Singapore, has shuttered its New York City outlet. The announcement comes barely a year after the popular Muslim-owned hawker brand marked its international debut at the Urban Hawker, a Singapore-style food center, in September 2022.
Challenges Faced by Ashes Burnnit in NYC
Founder of Ashes Burnnit, Lee Syafiq Muhd Ridzuan Lee, points to a constellation of challenges that led to the closure. Economic instability, hurdles in obtaining permanent working visas for its Singaporean workforce, and the towering operational costs in New York are cited as primary contributors. Lee specifically emphasized the disparity in wages, noting that a cook's salary in New York could be over double that of a Singaporean cook, post-tax.
The Impact of International Operations
Furthermore, the 13-hour time difference between the two locations complicated the management of operations. This added strain on Lee's work-life balance, further exacerbating the situation.
Lessons Learned and Future Plans
Despite the setback, Lee harbors no regrets about the venture. He perceives the experience as a valuable lesson in handling the intricacies of an international business and managing a diverse workforce. Undeterred, Lee remains hopeful and has plans to make a second attempt at opening a New York outlet by early 2024. Until then, his focus will be on strategizing and enhancing operations for his six existing outlets in Singapore.