Feather & Bone (FAB) is one of my favourite speciality grocery stores, acting as a grab-and-go spot for coffee and pastries, serving as a casual eatery with farm-to-table sharing plates and offering premium grocery, deli, produce and butchery items. With its Kelly green shopfront and beautiful interiors, FAB is one you can’t miss, with numerous locations serving Hong Kong’s busiest neighbourhoods.
I spoke to Mark Chan, Director of Operations for FAB, on the brand’s latest developments and sustainable solutions and how they support the 852 community.
How did the concept for FAB arise and why did you choose your initial location on Graham Street?
The concept of FAB was born out of love, and we strive to be a different shop – a place where the staff know who you are and what you’re coming in for. We want to make each trip feel personal and offer something more than being a grocer with a simple checkout at the cashier. Additionally, we want a home for products that someone might not easily find, especially in commercial shops or chains.
The initial location on Graham Street is still my personal favourite location to this day; the blending of an old, local market with our own signature offering had a romance to it. I wish the building hadn’t been demolished!
How are you finding solutions towards food waste and packaging at FAB?
It can be a challenge to confront your own footprint, but we try our best to find sustainable solutions towards food waste and packaging. It’s no secret that major supermarket chains have huge amounts of food waste, and it’s something we can be much more flexible on.
Our butchers are trained in keeping beef trimmings and adding them to the mix for our burger patties, and it goes the same for our sausages and sauces. Adding different cuts to our own products, separated from the “clean” cuts of meat consumers buy, is how we try to waste as little on the meat front as possible. We also donate our leftover baked goods from the bakery at Lee Garden Two in Causeway Bay to our charity partners, who come in four times a week and distribute to those in need.
In terms of packaging, we work with a company that produces vacuum bags made from cassava and corn polymer (which our meats are packaged in). Our fresh produce is wrapped up, due to the COVID pandemic, so working with SugarWrap, a bio-alternative cling-film producer, was made for this. The cling wrap is made from sugar cane in Australia. We sell their products in our shops too.
FAB’s first bakery at Lee Garden Two in Causeway Bay
You’ve launched your first bakery at Lee Garden Two in Causeway Bay. Will you be opening up more bakeries and, if so, what other neighbourhoods are you planning on expanding to?
We really don’t know at this point whether we will be opening more bakeries in addition to the one at our brand-new Lee Garden location. I think that’s the great thing about FAB – it can evolve for the neighbourhood or place it’s in. We do hope to continue to expand, but as for where and when, I’ll leave you guessing.
How do you choose and source your local, regional and global products? How do you get the best prices for these items?
We work with local brands and teams who have the same philosophies we stand for. Beyond quality, the products need to be reasonably priced and accessible. A lot of our local suppliers are farmers and artisans I have worked with over my career, while others are new.
Working directly with someone over a long period of time is really the only way to keep prices stable. Cutting out any middlemen and bringing in your own products gives you better pricing structures, plus access to better or more unique items that a distributor might not be willing to take a chance on.
What are some ways in which FAB gives back to the community? How are you supporting local charities and how do you select the charities you support?
We have monthly campaigns and partnerships with several local charities and take inspiration from our network and love learning from them as well. Previously, we’ve worked with ImpactHK and PathFinders. Last Christmas, we donated educational gifts to Changing Young Lives Foundation.
Working with the charities is case by case. We need to understand their needs and how to process from there. Recently, we've been granted charitable status for our very own foundation, FAB Foundation, which you’ll hear more about very soon!
You reduce a lot of food miles by working with local brands. What other sustainable practices do you utilise?
Working with other businesses in the industry help us a lot, working with those who provide eco-friendly packaging solutions, as well as exploring new product providers and services. Recently, Love Recycling Plus is one company we’re on board with, and they’re very new to the scene. For $199 a month, they deliver 120 1L recycling bins for our plastic, glass, paper, etc. and take care of the recycling for us. We have the bins in Sai Kung, which are well received and enquired by our regulars in that area.
Small, everyday solutions that benefit our regulars also help us towards becoming a greener brand. In popular areas where people are rushing to work and needing coffee, we give 10% off to anyone who brings a reusable mug. We’ve been doing this for few years, so a lot of our regular guests make great use of the discount!
Inside the Lee Garden Two shop
What are some of the local brands you work with that you'd like to highlight? Which brands are the most popular with FAB customers?
Hong Kong Raw Honey is an excellent product and local brand we work closely with. We sell several flavours online and in our shops that have been quite popular. Another one is Lantau Jerky, which is delicious, and we love the small-batch production out on Lantau Island. We have our own lager in collaboration with Young Master Brewery out in Wong Chuk Hang; it’s a house lager for us now, and the shops sell lots of it.
For gifts, we recommend Faux ceramics by local artist Mariko Jesse. We always see a surge in sales before Mother’s Day and Christmas.
Recently, we’ve added Fok Hing Gin to our boozy offerings, so we are excited to see how that will sell.
We’re always open to exploring local brands and welcome suggestions and ideas!
For more interviews like this, like Foodie on Facebook