Mr. Chan Shu Kit, founder and chairman of the Lei Garden Restaurant Group, was born in Guangzhou, China. His father was the famous Kuomintang military general Mr. Chan Ji Tang, who governed the Guangdong and Guangxi provinces of China in the 1930s. General Chan was then nicknamed “King of the South” and under his administration, peace and prosperity reigned. His benevolence remains fondly remembered by many old timers from that era.
When Mr. S.K. Chan was young, his family residence was frequented by social dignitaries and he had the rare opportunity to taste the exquisite cuisines prepared by master chefs. These experiences have engendered in him a refined sense for gourmet food and a cultivated knowledge for what it means to be served. This experience has planted in him a seed to venture into the restaurant business later in his life.
Following his late father’s steps, Mr. Chan originally pursued a career in the army and studied first at the Central Military Academy in Taiwan and later the Virginia Military School in the United States. He later obtained a Master degree in Structural Engineering from the United States. He returned to Hong Kong in 1961 and started his career in education. He founded two English Secondary Schools and became their Principal.
His desire for quality food remained unchanged and few restaurants could satisfy his exacting palate. He often jokes about how others eat in order to live but he lives only to eat. He was confident that if he were to open a restaurant he could serve not only the best in taste but beneficial to health. Despite much friendly dissuasion, he opened his first restaurant – the Lei Garden Chinese Restaurant – in 1973 in Shamshuipo, Hong Kong.
As an man of letters, he knew little about the choice of location or the strategies of marketing and production. The result was a loss of over 2 million dollars in the first six years of operation. But Mr. Chan refused to simply accept this failure. To grasp the key to success, he learned to cook and sought experienced professional help in the field. With his perseverance and a modernized, scientific approach to management, he successfully expanded his restaurant empire in the following decades to its current scale: 24 branches across 9 cities including Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Ningbo, with over 2,500 staff under his employment.