From Dentistry to Ribs

He started his journey as an entrepreneur 17 years ago. From the looks of it, he isn’t returning to business-as-usual.

“I’m still in it, and I’m still loving it!”

Social media tends to propagate images of young well-dressed entrepreneurs aspiring to take the world by storm. Sure, their stories are no less inspiring, and they make great social media shares, but you can also find stories if you just look past the limelight.

This is the story about a man and his love for entrepreneurship…and pork ribs. Like most tales of opportunity, it starts with the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis and its following recession.

“Basically, for me as a young entrepreneur at 27 years old [in 1999], if not for the recession I wouldn’t have had the chance to do F&B. In good times, nobody will look at new entrepreneurs…it’s a blessing in disguise.”

Dr. Jeffrey Goh is the Group CEO of Capricciosa, home to a multitude of F&B brands (more on that later). Which is surprising, considering his background.

“I’m a dental surgeon by profession…it was my fiance (now wife) who decided to buy a franchise in 1999, and we started to run it…

“I pulled my last tooth in 2006.”

That set him on a journey to fully commit to the food business until he decided to sell them off in 2009. Under his belt at the time were big established brands like Manhattan Fish Market and Tony Roma’s.

He decided to start anew two years later in 2011, and his resurgence has resulted in several new brands, chief among them Morganfield’s, a homegrown Western-styled restaurant that prides itself on its pork ribs. It started with Dr. Goh’s personal love for it, but lamented the lack of its presence locally.

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The team behind Morganfield’s in da:mén USJ.

“I always had the intention to do something with pork ribs… I decided to enter the niche market (as it only caters to 30% of the population)… we are currently the only big chain around [that sells pork ribs].”

Dr. Goh recalls when the curtain raised for the first Morganfield’s outlet, “There was an overwhelming anticipation when we opened!”

Currently, 11 Morganfield’s outlets dot around Malaysia with three each in Shanghai and Singapore, and one in Manila. The former dentist has also plans to expand the brand’s presence, aiming to have four new outlets in Malaysia, followed by a couple more in China and Manila. He expects to see all of them up and running by the end of this year.

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A Morganfield’s outlet in Penang.
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The signs don’t lie.
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Morganfield’s in Pavilion KL.

Talk about thinking big.

In a short period of five years, we have established ourselves in four countries, and totalling 25 to 26 outlets by the end of this year.

And if that’s not ambitious, Morganfield’s has also primed itself in the technological space with a mobile app of its own. To entice first-time users, you get a free RM20 voucher upon download. Through the app, you can also place reservations, look through current offers, and earn rewards in a stamp collection system.

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Morganfield’s turns 5 come July 23 2016, and there’ll be a celebration at the eCurve Damansara outlet. All are welcome!

Aside from Morganfield’s, other brands under Dr. Goh include Capriciossa (Italian cuisine), House (restaurant-bar-winepost), The Canteen (da:mén’s food court), Snackz It (Taiwanese snacks), Ong Lai (pork-based local cuisine) and Mocktail Bar (exactly what it says). You can find most of these brands in da:mén in USJ, effectively making it Dr. Goh’s F&B gallery.

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Capriciossa serves halal Italian cuisine.
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Ong Lai caters to folks looking for pork-based dishes.
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The Canteen uses a cashless payment system – the first of its kind.

With 17 years of experience in the food business, it’s safe to say that Dr. Goh has a wealth of experience, both in being a franchisee and starting a new concept. He has some words to say to those wanting to enter. “It is a very easy business to get into, but keeping it open is not. If it’s not your main business, it’s always better to acquire a franchise than starting anew.” To him, a franchise is easier simply because most of the procedures and standards are already in place, lowering the chances of complications and mistakes.

That said, he does acknowledge that his words are based on his experience with the franchise model, and doesn’t discourage people starting from scratch. “I love to see entrepreneurship! It will drive innovation.

“…it should be the core of every potential venture,” says his next piece of advice, not confined to just F&B alone.

“Don’t ever run a business because it’s what you like; do it because your target market likes it.”

Case in point, Morganfield’s – he saw that there was potential and he followed through.

Outlet photos courtesy of Morganfield’s.

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About Andrew Yew

Storyteller. Doodler. Gamer.

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