PETALING JAYA: The pandemic has had a profound effect on the way we eat. For the larger part of the year, dining out was limited, delivery became the norm, and countless businesses ran out of steam.
For business partners Raj Krishnasamy and Siva Sachi, however, the closure of their restaurant presented an opportunity to change course. And with their company, KitchenCo – Cloud Kitchen, they are hoping to bring other restaurateurs at sea along for the ride.
“Our own restaurant was a casualty of the movement control order (MCO),” Raj told FMT. “After it shut down, we looked at what was being done overseas.”
That was when they decided to adopt the cloud kitchen model. The concept allows business owners to book spaces and cook in a large commercial kitchen, with KitchenCo – Cloud Kitchen taking care of jobs like delivery, menu design and tech support.
“Our clients can test the waters with minimal upfront cost. Manpower is always a difficult issue when running a business and the services that KitchenCo – Cloud Kitchen provides allow our renters to focus on the food,” Raj said.
With their current location Bangsar fully taken, Raj and Siva plan to branch out to Klang, Subang, PJ and other areas.
They are in the process of scouting locations and studying what foods are most popular in those areas.
“Since we opened in December, we’ve been getting two to three inquiries daily from people looking to rent a space and we’ve put them on a wait list for our next location,” Siva said.
MCOs have wreaked havoc on the food industry, but Siva said some perks have allowed them to get to where they are now.
“A lot of talented food industry veterans were out of work. So we were able to bring in people with tons of experience.
“Also, with many restaurants going out of business, equipment was cheap and landlords were willing to lower their rent.”
KitchenCo – Cloud Kitchen is built for the new normal. Two-way cubicles make up most of the back wall, allowing chefs to pass food to delivery riders without any contact, a practice the pair want to retain.
Siva said “brick and mortar isn’t feasible at the moment” for many looking to get into the food business, pointing to the number of home cooks who have pivoted to selling food from home through social media.
Although the two are receiving more inquiries than they can handle, they encourage fence sitters to get in touch anyway since there is a chance space will be available in their next branch.
“We want to put new vendors in situations where they can succeed,” Raj said, explaining that vendors would ideally provide different offerings to minimise competition.
Their plans are not confined to Malaysia. They hope to expand across Southeast Asia and bring opportunities to entrepreneurs and aspiring chefs looking for a new start.
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