On 14 April 2019, many hearts were left broken.
The “last” Kenny Rogers branch, located at Great World City, closed.
If you’re thinking that Kenny Rogers is a retail chain that sells soft toys, then you can move on to the next article.
If not, here goes nothing.
An End To An Era
Opened here in 1994, Kenny Rogers, the OG western restaurant before chains like Astons and Chargrill Bar came in like cannonballs, was one of the favourite F&B chains for some Singaporeans.
But little did you know that the franchise has closed several outlets quietly.
On 8 April 2019, the management, Pacific Utama Pte Ltd, suddenly put up a notice at the Great World City branch to announce their last day of service. In the announcement, they also thanked the patrons they garnered over the years.
Of course, as soon as the announcement got onto social media, Singaporeans were quick to queue at the last branch. Long queues were formed, and many wanted to savour the taste of their famous corn muffins for the last time, or to taste the memories of their childhood again.
Unfortunately, they were sold out early and left many disappointed.
We were all ready to bid goodbye to the famous American restaurant chain, until this happened.
New and Improved
As everyone (okay, maybe only the A&W generation since the younger ones grow up with Astons instead) was still in shock and acceptance of the closure, Lao Huo Tang Group of Companies announced that they were taking over the master franchise rights to Kenny Rogers Singapore from Roasters Asia Pacific (Cayman) Ltd.
Lao Huo Tang Group of Companies is a homegrown F&B group behind chains such as Lao Huo Tang (老火汤), which is a family restaurant that serves traditional Chinese soups and dishes. In recent years, you would have spotted their resturants opening up almost everywhere with Edmund Chen endorsing it.
(One of us even though that 老火汤 is by Edmund Chen!)
So yes, just like how Gong Cha rose from the ashes, Kenny Rogers is making a comeback.
And it’s going to be very, very different.
They will be opening new halal-certified, ultra-modern, improvised version of the Kenny Rogers that you used to know.
What can you expect?
New Affordable Menu
To cater to a greater variety of patrons, the franchise will be halal-certified. So after all these years of simply walking past outlets, our Muslim friends can finally enjoy Kenny Rogers as we know it.
Not only that, but prices of menu items will be dropped. Lao Huo Tang Group pledged to price items on the menu less than $20, so that it will be more affordable for diners.
If you’re worried that crowd favourites will be removed from the menu due to the new management, fret not.
Its quarter rotisserie chicken, mac and cheese and famous corn muffins will remain on the menu. The management reassured that they were not going to try reinventing the menu, but instead offer new creations and seasonal items.
That’s not the end.
During the press announcement, menu highlights were also announced such as OMG (Outrageous Mouthwatering Guiltless) Chicken that is cooked with a combi oven. It is claimed to be as crispy and tasty as conventional fried chicken.
I’m skeptical about that, but technology always has a way of proving us wrong.
They will also serve a healthy Nasi Lemak that is made with virgin coconut oil and red rice.
New on the menu, Kenny Rogers will also serve salmon. The marketing manager for Lao Huo Tang Group, Tiffany Hong, shared that salmon will be served on the menu to cater to more health-conscious patrons by offering a substitute to chicken.
Fast and Casual
The new Kenny Rogers will follow the Fast Casual restaurant concept. Fast Casual restaurants do not offer full table service, but has a higher quality of food than fast food restaurants.
Think this, an atas fast-food restaurant.
Kind of remind you of the new western restaurants that are everywhere now, right?
It was also shared that diners can expect to have their food items at their table within ten minutes from ordering.
So for impatient diners who can’t wait to have their food, you’re in luck.
Hopefully, diners will cherish the re-opening of the chain after its dramatic closure.