Done well with love
Article from the Sun daily by Peony Chin (posted on 2 August 2016)
WORKING in the city centre presents very little viable options for lunch. But thanks to that inconvenience, meal delivery services have been mushrooming across the Klang Valley, and sharing a slice of the pie is Meraki Kitchen.
The story of Meraki Kitchen's birth is a sweet one. The girlfriend of co-founder Colin Lim was one of many in the workforce facing lunchtime woes, so one day he decided to cook and bring the meal to her every day. One thing led to another – his girlfriend's colleagues tried his cooking and liked it, then requested for lunch boxes themselves, which they offered to pay for.
When Lim realised that it would be a great business opportunity, he roped in his good friend Ronald Tee. But here's the catch – neither had experience or knew the fundamentals to starting a business. Lim studied hotel management and marketing, while Tee worked in advertising for a while. Through perseverance and a case-by case experience, Meraki Kitchen is slowly, but surely, faring well.
Why did you choose to have Ronald on board?
LIM: I had trust in him to be a good business partner! We're pretty different in character. He looks at the bigger picture of everything, while I'm the kind to take one year at a time. So it's a good balance.
How would you say it's been, starting a business without any experience?
LIM: The learning curve is high. There's a lot more to it than we assumed there was. We thought food delivery meant making food and delivering it. Sounds simple, but the logistics – delivery part – are very, very tough. You can cook for a thousand people. It's delivering to a thousand places that is the issue.
Is there a reason you chose an Asian menu instead of a continental or western one?
LIM: It's easier to make Asian food tasty yet healthy, because you use a lot of natural ingredients such as garlic, ginger, and onion. I find it tough to make western food tasty without adding too much salt or additives. Anyway, there is already a big player in the market doing western food.
How do you stand out from the other food delivery services?
TEE: From the service that we provide – we always go the extra mile. If there's an error on our part, we always try our best to make it up to our customers. For example, if we're late for a delivery, we'll give it to them on the house. Colin follows up with customers after a sale to check whether they were pleased with it or not.
How do you craft your menu?
LIM: The thing is, we fine-tune our recipes all the time. We've fine-tuned our soba dish five to six times. We don't want to offer mediocre food, that's why we don't offer too many dishes, so our menu is slightly limited now. But as time goes on, we hope to provide more options.
What's a typical working day like for you?
TEE: We start the day before and take orders up till 7pm. From there, we'll know how many orders we have, then go and buy fresh ingredients. Afterwards, we'll prep the food, and we'll continue prepping the next day. Then we cook the food, deliver it, and the process repeats.
LIM: We marinate a lot of things overnight, that's why we do it the night before.
How do you balance work and play, when you're running your own business?
LIM: In the early stage, work is play because a lot of attention to detail needs to be put in.
TEE: For me, it's only work now. There's not much time to play because I want more time to work. So with the free time we have, we enjoy it a bit more.
LIM: It's true. I'm very happy whenever I get to see my girlfriend.
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