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Tastemakers They’ve Got Soul: The Soul Society Group On Building Their Restaurants Around Family Life

They’ve Got Soul: The Soul Society Group On Building Their Restaurants Around Family Life

They’ve Got Soul: The Soul Society Group On Building Their Restaurants Around Family Life
Michele Kwok, cofounder of the Soul Society Group (Photo: Khairul Imran / Tatler Malaysia)
By Katelyn Tan
January 26, 2021
As far as family-run businesses go, the Soul Society Group has been a team effort since day one

Despite being the proprietors, no task at The Soul Society Group is too small for the Choo family. "I still remember seeing dad scrub SOULed Out’s floors," reveals Brian Choo. "Meanwhile, mum always took it upon herself to get the party started by wielding the microphone."

Fred Choo and Michele Kwok, the dynamic duo whom he speaks of, founded the Soul Society Group which encompasses the SOULed Out franchise, Tujo, WIP and Hubba Hubba. The longest-running of the bunch, SOULed Out is pretty much the family’s second home.

See also: Tatler Dining's Best Of The Year Awards 2020

(L-R) Mark Choo, Brian Choo and mum Michele Kwok
(L-R) Mark Choo, Brian Choo and mum Michele Kwok

The boys are intrinsically drawn to the family business, mostly for sentimental reasons. Currently chief operating officer (COO) of the group, Brian fondly recalls the novelty of being allowed to stay out late with his parents on Friday nights.

"I’ve been involved in SOULed Out since I was eight, waiting tables by the time I was 13," he says. "Mark was only four when we opened, so SOULed Out has basically been around all his life." Inspired by his parents' acumen when it comes to personalised services and prioritising customers, Mark built his own fitness empire (Tribe Boxing Studio and Cirque Fitness Studio) upon these same pillars.

Related: How Mark Choo Is Shaping A Close-Knit Fitness Community With Tribe

Both a mother and a friend to her boys, Kwok enjoys seeing Soul Society's clientele widen over the years to include her children’s friends. She credits their restaurants' ageless appeal to the family’s close-knit relations.

"Mark and Brian bring fresh ideas to the table," acknowledges Michele. "It’s important to tap into the ideas of different generations." A creative to the core, Kwok is receptive to F&B trends and fresh concepts. Recently, the group engaged the help of celebrity chef Sapna Anand to develop new Indian dishes for SOULed Out’s fusion menu.

Outside of their nuclear family, the foursome say that their loyal customer base constitutes one huge extended family. The restaurant group prides itself on being part and parcel of their guests' birthday celebrations and memories of growing up. According to Kwok, a hospitable environment isn't so much about the venue, but the people who make it, from the chefs to the kitchen staff and the regulars turned friends.

This feature was originally published in the 2021 Tatler Dining Guide.

  • Photography Khairul Imran/Tatler Malaysia

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Tastemakers The Industry soul society group souled out michele kwok restaurateur

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