It is a warm day in May, and we meet up with Leon Foo of Papa Palheta and Chye Seng Huat Hardware for ice cream, waffles, and coffee. Leon is a seasoned businessman, entrepreneur, husband, and father of Cooper and Riley Foo, who seem to have gotten a bit excited about the ice cream and have fallen into a sugar-high driven frenzy.
When the kids have mellowed down a bit, Leon wipes some sweat from his brow and scoops Cooper up his lap. “Where does Papa work? Tell them, where does Papa work,” he says. Cooper bats his eyes and smiles widely, oblivious to the fact that his lips are outlined with our Plain Ole Chocolate ice cream. “Chye sasng hat!” he proudly declares. Leon gives him a kiss on his head, and Cooper leaps off Leon’s lap and starts running around again.
“Breakfast time with my family is very important to me,” Leon says. “My wife and I wake up really early now that we have kids so we can help them get ready for school. Elita (Leon’s wife) drops the kids off, drops me at work, and then it’s the usual office day.”
This is what a normal day for Leon Foo looks like—after a relaxing breakfast at home with the kids, whom, by the way, help him make the morning coffee (“Just the capsule type! Riley drops the capsule in, and I let Cooper press the buttons”). Once he gets to work, he is faced with a lot of strategic and managerial decision making before he calls it a day.
“A part of me still wants to pursue my personal interests—vinyl records, for example, or running. But my priorities have obviously shifted since having a family—family comes first, and then my career. It’s hard to not separate the two because one affects the other. My personal interests take a backseat for now, but maybe I can revisit them when the kids get older since they’re currently at their formative years, and they need me to be there 110%. This is not a bad thing, though.
Family time is what I look forward to now—we do walks in the park and get ice cream most of the time. We also have this rule where we don’t use our phones during meal-time.”
Nurturing children also has its common threads with nurturing a business. Leon tells us that one of the main things when it comes to growing your business is how you treat your staff and how you create a culture. “I put the same mindset to my family,” Leon says. “Sometimes you have more patience with your staff, but not with people who are closer to you (like family), so what I realised was that you need to have the same, or even more, patience when it comes to family, especially with the kids, and using that virtue to raise them.”
At this point in time, Leon says it’s too early to tell if he and his son Cooper have the same things in common. “Maybe little things like being cheeky or being an apple polisher,” Leon laughs, “but I am seeing similar traits such as being inquisitive, sweet, and affectionate. We both love cars, but he hates coffee. I don’t necessarily expose him to what I like, because I’d like him to discover what he likes on his own terms.” For now, Leon wants to instil good character traits in both his children.
“I want them to learn about values such as integrity and honesty. Because at the end of the day, character will really outlive you. Money and fame will come and go, but character is what will last.”
It’s never too late to put a smile on Dad’s face, check out our Father’s Day Happiness Box Collection here, which comes with 3 pints of handcrafted ice cream and 2 bottles of our Cold Brew Coffee. Available for in-store purchase as well, where you can customise your pint flavours.
To all Fathers out there, happy Dad’s day from us at Creamier.