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Lam-Marshall family builds on successful Vila Villa model

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Daniel Lam

Cava, bye-bye. Vila Villa Hunan Hotpot, welcome.

The Lam-Marshall family have converted a somewhat less than successful restaurant into one that looks like a sure thing. The just opened Vila Villa No.2 has four tables downstairs and 10 upstairs. Each table has recessed hotpots heated electrically.

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The family — Scotsman Doug Marshall, wife Kathy Lam, her brother Daniel and “Fat Boy” — has stuck to the model that made Vila Villa No. 1 on Yi Chun street a popular place: good basic food at low prices. At VV1 most lunch dishes cost $50 or $58.

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The electrically heated hot-pots

The Lam-Marshalls are proper Sai Kung people, long-time residents. Doug met Kathy when she was working at The Corner cafe. Daniel says it is a real family business. “Everybody does everything, from management to cleaning the toilets.”

Kathy said the family is tightening up their business. Aside from the two Vila Villas, they also have the Bumblebee playgroup and learning centres at two sites. Kathy said one of these is to be closed. Vila Villa has the potential to become a chain. If the family takes secondary sites at relatively low rents and sticks to the model of good basic food at low prices, it could be spread widely.

Examples of portion prices for hotpot cooking at Vila Villa 2: beef $68, pork $48, lamb $55, pork meat balls $55, lobster balls $28, seafood rolls $25, vegetarian dumplings $36.

Kathy said Doug has not been well. His friends and fans trust he will be out for a beer with them soon.

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