John Tan graduated as the top student in the degree program in Business Administration from a leading university in Malaysia. After his graduation, he started a restaurant as he believed that the restaurant business would ensure a bright future for him. However, in the course of operating his restaurant, he received numerous comments via the customer’s feedback regarding the poor menu and services. In trying to solve the problem, he remembered that his college friend Adrian was a successful restaurant consultant, therefore John decided to seek his help. Adrian majored in Hotel and Catering Management. After their graduation, John influenced Adrian, started a small restaurant as he believed that the restaurant business would ensure a bright future for him. That was ten years ago and the restaurant, Cape Town White Coffee, had grown from a small corner store into a free standing restaurant in an upper middle class residential area.

The restaurant concept

When John began his restaurant, the ‘kopitiam’ concept, the modernized version of the traditional coffee shop, was not yet popular in the country. However, it had already become popular in Ipoh, a city located to the north and John’s hometown. So he adopted the concept of ‘kopitiam’ for his Cape Town White Coffee restaurant, which is located in a city in the southern part of the country. The restaurant started in 1999. After a few years of successful operation, John Tan franchised his business concept in order to expand his business faster. Within the next 5 years, Cape Town had opened 25 outlets throughout the country with a total manpower of 150 staffs.

The beginning of the problem

As the normal part of business operations, the management of the Cape Town White Coffee restaurant always received numerous comments through customer’s feedback. Indeed the feedback had often been the source of many ideas that had contributed to the success of the restaurant. Lately, however, there were an increasing number of negative comments especially pertaining to the quality of the menu and services. According to the comments, the menu was dull and the choices were limited, and rather the staffs are slow. It had not changed for the last 5 years. In addition some customer’s complaint that the captions for each item in the menu were inaccurate, the portion size seems to be shrinking, and the pictures in the menu misrepresented the food that was actually served.

John Tan had already discussed the problem a number of times with Chef Ong, the Executive Chef. Chef Ong, an excellent chef, was responsible for the overall menu used throughout the franchise outlets. John has discussed the need to change the items on the menu, and to create new items to meet the changing preference of the customers. He has also suggested that the set lunches should be introduced and beverage items in the menu be increase. He took for granted that the Chef would accept the changes needed and would implement them as requested. However Chef Ong had done nothing, while the staffs are unfairly treated and the salary is not competitive. He claimed it was difficult to satisfy everyone and that if he added more items it would be difficult to control the cost of the food. Besides, he argued that the waiters and waitresses had not promoted the items in the menu properly, and so the customers tended to other low priced food items.

To John, the menu had clearly reached the point of fatigue. The menu cards needed to be redesigned and fresh menu items were needed to replace those menu items that were not selling well. Staffs remuneration packages should be relooking. There had been a noticeable drop in the number of the customers, and several competitors with restaurant based in this concept had emerged in the country. He was aware that he needed to do something quickly. But what action should he take?


To be successfully managed HR, individuals need personal credibility, understanding of business strategy, and ability to deliver HR services. What is workforce diversity in relations to Cape Town White Coffee? Discuss.

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