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November 18, 2010

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Malone's celebrates 16 years

TODAY, right now, Malone's is celebrating its 16th birthday.

It opened its flagship establishment on Tongren Road on November 18, 1994. It went on to open two more pubs and sell more than 825,000 burgers.

Among the many expat landmarks that are must-sees for many first-time visitors, Malone's is high on the list, after the demise of the Hard Rock Caf?? and TGI Fridays.

It's famous for its large portions of Western food, cold beers, Americana bric-a-brac and a top Filipino cover band that has been rocking out Malone's for more than nine years.

Malone's has been serving more than 30 styles of burgers, huge plates of barbecue pork, beef and chicken, two-handed sandwiches, pasta, huge bowls of assorted salads, plus a vast array of steaks, pork chops and lamb chops. Then there's plenty of dessert with lots of cream, chocolate sauce, ice cream, chopped nuts, more cream and that ever-present maraschino cherry on top.

Ask people what they like about Malone's and they say the food, the service, the parties, the band and so on. But one answer is the same °?°?- consistency. Malone's has been consistent in what they do for 16 years and that's the key to its popularity and longevity.

"Consistency is a big part of what we train all the staff here," said Paul Granville, Malone's director of group marketing and entertainment who has worked at Malone's for seven years.

"If someone orders a House burger and a Mojito then it should be made and presented the same way day in and day out. People like the fact that they feel safe knowing they are getting the same item the way they like it whenever they want it."

Another part of Malone's success is its six-piece band, Art-6, from the Philippines. It joined the company in 2001 with a perfect mix of rock and roll, pop and soul and a splash of disco to spice up the busy evenings after dinner down on Tongren Road. They became a major hit with the regular guests and very quickly drew media attention as Filipino bands were rare outside hotels in 2001. They were featured on the cover of City Weekend, which boosted their fame around the city.

When band leader Bong De Guzman is asked what makes Art-6 so popular, he says without hesitation, "we just play what people want, and try and learn as many songs as we can so we always have something new to play."

The band has played more than 8,000 songs since arriving at Malone's and that pretty much cover most people's requests.

What does the next 16 years hold for Malone's?

At the Malone's outlet in Pudong's Thumb Plaza, in the heart of expat residential compounds, General Manager Mike Ward observes, "Malone's is an institution ... It's all about catering for what our guests want and need. If they're not happy with your product, then they will not return, plain and simple.

"My job is to keep them coming back."

The brand-new pub in Suzhou's New District opened just before National Day and is run by General Manager Johnson Yeo who used to be the manager of the Tongren pub. So he has extensive knowledge of what Malone's guests want and like. He agrees with Ward about looking after each guest's needs.

The future is bright at the new Suzhou pub. Malone's famous Monday Burger & Beer Night will start in December.

And with another Malone's expected to open early in 2011 and other sites being scouted, the sky really is the limit.

When asked about Malone's being the longest-running foreign-owned restaurant and bar in Shanghai, group marketing director Granville said, "We're just warming up."


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