Daniel Ong, known for being a former Mediacorp DJ, underpaying is former foreign workers, and closing his Rookery restaurants due to the negative economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, has returned to the F & B industry to provide for his family.
The 45-year-old was set to open a Korean-themed Steakhouse called Dan’s Steaks, said 8 Days. After closing his Capital Tower restaurants called Rookery due to losses incurred from Circuit Breaker guidelines, he went into the renovations business.
But even those clients dried up once news of his previous conduct as co-owner of beleaguered Twelve Cupcakes brand was reported.
Daniel Ong and Jamie Teo in hot water over reduced salaries for foreign workers
Alvinology said in an earlier report that his ex-wife Jamie Teo was found guilty of 10 instances of underpaying foreign workers when she and Daniel owned the brand in 2013 to 2016. She was told to pay $65,000 to the court, but Daniel’s case has not been heard.
Court proceedings showed that under Jamie and Daniel’s ownership, the restaurant engaged in practices that resulted in paying workers less than what was promised. One of these practices was disbursing an amount to employee accounts and asking them to return some of it in cash so that the records would reflect they were paid correctly.
Daniel Ong loses all income from his home renovations business
The report said that Daniel went through a lot of hardship during 2020. He said, in an interview, “I lost everything I worked for for six years. [Running a business in the] CBD is tough. Business dropped by 70 per cent [during the Circuit Breaker] and then to 50 per cent, so we bit the bullet and just shut.”
But for his new steakhouse, he plans to cater to a niche market who prefers their steaks high-end. “I intend to keep it small simply because I will be the one cooking and serving. I want to keep it tight so that service and food can be great. We will serve 20, 30 steaks a day and we want to keep the quality really high,” shares Daniel.
But as the months went by and the case continued, Daniel revealed how it has affected him personally. He said in the 8 Days interview, “Because of the Twelve Cupcakes incident, I lost all my income from my renovation business. Clients pulled out and I basically had no income. I was forced to rethink my life and how I’m gonna put food on the table for my family, and one thing I can do is cook. So Dan’s Steaks itself is a product of necessity and a product of people egging me on and giving me encouragement. Even though there’s a lot of bad press about me, I think I was pushed in this direction to start this concept and hopefully it does well.”
Daniel expressed fear that the case would also continue to have a negative effect on the new business. He continued to say that the truth would come out and that his employees at Twelve Cupcakes said that he was a good boss.