When he thinks back to high school, Aston Soon recalls a time when he went to class, his backpack filled not with textbooks, but with his work uniform for his part-time job at American Ponderosa Steakhouse – which is now defunct.

He was never really the studious type and instead found joy in the hustle and bustle of working in a restaurant. In fact, there were days where he skipped school just to go to work. “In those days, people used to carry pagers. When my manager paged me, I would climb over the school fence and go off to work,” the now 50-year-old shared, chuckling at the memory. For him, money is not the most important issue, but the experience and knowledge gained while working is what attracts him.

Since the age of 7, he has worked through many jobs, from street hawker, grinding and packing coffee, labourer, a golf caddy, a newspaper delivery boy, a Christmas card seller and a duck rice stall assistant. After completing his studies, he became an official employee of Ponderosa and stayed here for 15 years, doing everything from serving as a waiter, washing dishes to cooking steaks, and finally promoted to become a manager of Ponderosa.

After a while, he decided to open a small food stall by himself, cook and run his own business. During this time, his family also supported and helped him a lot.

A year later, Astons Soon opened its first Astons Specialties restaurant two units away from its original shop. The restaurant quickly expanded with several branches springing up all over Singapore, including the downtown area. Today, Astons restaurants are divided into three categories – Astons Specialities, Astons Steaks & Salads and Andes by Astons, with Astons Steaks & Salads specializing in halal dishes for Muslims to enjoy.

Ever since he was a kid, he wanted to be a cowboy after watching the Zorro and War Horse movies, so all of the Astons restaurants have a common theme – inspired by western cowboys.

He also believes that the key to Astons’ success over the years has been affordable prices, as “good food doesn’t have to be expensive”.

“When I started this business, my objective wasn’t to make money. It was just to make a living. As long as I can live comfortably, I am satisfied. That’s how simple it is.”

According to cnaluxury.channelnewsasia.com