Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Who's Harry?

Even the CEO draws a blank. If Mohan Mulani can't give a definitive answer to my question, our guess is as good as his. After "How are you?", that could well be the question he's asked most often. Mohan's after all the CEO of Harry's Holdings Limited - a post he's held since 2006. Prior to that, he was its Director.

Harry's has truly come a long way from when its founder Jim Gelpi in 1992 first planted the first outlet along the south side of the Singapore River at Boat Quay. From a lone F&B outlet, it added an 'upstairs' comprising a lounge and function room in 2000. Mohan wrote himself into Harry's history in 2002 when he bought out the shareholders and what change ensued. He was like a spark plug who ignited the business, growing it from jazz bar to what's now a heavyweight brand. By year's end, our island will have 31 Harry's outlets spread across the CBD, business parks, recreational and lifestyle belts, as well as malls. Remarkable growth for an 18-year-old company.

Among the many famous personalities, both customers and jazz greats, that Harry's has hosted, rogue trader Nick Leeson of Barings will perhaps be best remembered as a frequent patron. Mohan however shares that he was once told by his staff that Minister Mentor Lee had popped in one afternoon. Ahh! Could this be the missing piece to the puzzling name? I'm none the wiser after my chat with Mohan that I was before.

Mohan pens his journey and that of the business and brand in The Story of Harry's, his first book through which he articulates fresh, heartfelt and vivid recollections of the path they've collectively and individually taken. From milestones to millstones, it's obvious this man's no quitter.

It's an easy read brewed with lots of wholesome honesty, bubbling with full-bodied flavour just like Harry's Premium Lager (which you can redeem a bottle for by presenting Mohan's book at any Harry's outlet from now till April 2011).

The Story of Harry's (published by Marshall Cavendish) is on sale at all major bookstores at S$25 (before GST).

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