Come now, you know what Haidilao is. The chain of Sichuan-style hot pot restaurants took Singapore by storm since it opened its first branch here in 2013, and is now known for having long lines of people queuing up outside 10 of its outlets across the island.
It’s a household name that has made its founders billions of dollars — a phenomenal contrast from its humble beginnings as a small restaurant in the Chinese province of Sichuan in 1994. Though Haidilao’s founders are all from China, two of them have since become Singaporean citizens, and they’re repping the city-state in the Forbes Billionaire list this year.
With a net worth of US$6.8 billion, Haidilao chairman Zhang Yong is placed in the 224th position in the list. The 48-year-old had humble beginnings as a welder in a tractor factory in Jianyang, Sichuan before deciding to run a restaurant that would focus on quality service and hotpot cuisine.
He had help, of course. His friend — now wife — Shu Ping helped seed the money with two other friends to set up Zhang’s first Haidilao restaurant. A great investment because Ping, also a Singaporean citizen, is now worth US$1.8 billion thanks to her role as Haidilao director. In fact, the 49-year-old is the only woman from Singapore who made it onto Forbes’ Billionaire list this year.
Today, Zhang and Ping live in Singapore, though Zhang splits his time between here and China. Money is no issue for them of course — in 2016, Zhang bought a S$27 million bungalow at Gallop Road, located close to the Botanic Gardens.
Not too shabby for the folks behind manicurists in waiting rooms, expensive hot pot delicacies, and fancy noodle twirlers.