iMiirage, touted as the world’s first ambience dining restaurant (according to their website iMiirage.com), has closed on the 31st March 2017. Whether it is closed for good or is just merely relocating, as they claim on their website, is not clear. One would have thought that if they are relocating, they should be able to provide more details on where they are moving to. Like Marianis, they gave notice to their patrons where they were relocating to before they closed the one at De Garden. And there were rumours where they were relocating to too even before they put up the notice. Because as a business you want continuity, to keep your existing customers, and the staff who are working for you too. Otherwise you’ll essentially be starting your business from scratch, almost, all over again.
Anyway it’s not my business and the owner, apparently same owner as the “mighty” Nam Heong, might have other ideas, for example to cut the loss first whilst finding a more suitable location for the business. Or he might be more keen to just end the business, hence not really thinking much about its subsequent reincarnation. It does seem to me that the latter is more likelier the case.
It is a shame, really. The restaurant was opened with great fanfare about a year and a half ago. It does provide a fairly unique dining experience, with fancy scenery like underwater, skyline of Hong Kong etc. Perhaps Ipoh is too small a market for such fine dining experience. And it’s expensive, by Ipoh standard. Whether their food is up to standard is debatable, perhaps not consistent or good enough for people to want to pay top dollar dining there. Last but not least, the location. I’ve written a piece on Nam Heong, where iMiirage was located. The location of that SOHO area is a complete non-starter for retail business in my opinion. It’s very inconvenient to get to, much worse than De Garden. And now that there are more shop lots built there, finding parking space will be big issue. Lack of planning is so common in Malaysia. Or maybe it was deliberate for SOHO’s case, as developers are mostly only interested in maximing their profit. Building a multi-storey car park costs money. Anyway I think the location is still the killer.
Okay we shall see if iMiirage will be resurrected somewhere else. If you know any news about it I’ll be interested to know.
The other day, probably a week ago I went to the Bagel Kitchen wanted to buy bagels for my wife. But it was closed. At the time I wasn’t sure whether it was closed for good or just for a day. It was a Sunday, so I suspected that they might have closed for good, as Sunday is a normally a good day for business.
Went past again today and saw a “To Rent” sign hanging outside their fence. It is a nice looking place, nicely renovated, and facing the main road. But I guess the Ipoh folks are not so hot on Bagels. Anyway it is going to be a tough year this year so it might not be such a bad idea to cut the loss.
De Garden is a fantastic place for Pokemon Go players to go collect Pokeballs etc. Do you know there are four PokeStops around De Garden!
At the De Garden entrance
Water fountain facing the main road
Where Peugeot show room used to be, next to Digi service centre or below Cheeky Tots [now some work is going on there, apparently a Japanese restaurant is moving in]
Water fountain round the back
While collecting my items, also found out that some work is going on where Ayam Penyet used to be.
A Korean restaurant is moving in, hence making it the third Korean restaurant after Dao-Rae Korean BBQ and Daebak Dakgalbi. Strong presence of Korean culture at De Garden, with a Korean fashion outlet there too. Next time if you fancy Korean food in Ipoh, De Garden is THE place to go to, on top of it being a great hangout place for Pokemon Go players LOL
Updated on 19/10/2016:
The new Korean restaurant is called DOMA. Soft opened on 15th October. Formally opening on 20th October. Check them out on their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/doma.modern.korean/
This is only their second outlet. The first one is located in Mont Kiara KL. Very brave to open an outlet here in Ipoh. Am I excited about the food they serve? Nope. I’m more an observer curious about how the Ipoh market responds to it.
Another F&B business bites the dust at De Garden. Boston is one of the earliest tenants there. Apparently they stopped doing business since 1st June 2016. It seems that they are a franchise business, because another opened in M-Mall Penang earlier this year. Hence this leaves Daorae as the longest surviving F&B business at De Garden.
Interestingly the furnishing in Boston remains intact. I wonder if they are left there to part settle rental with De Garden? Or maybe there is some arrangements agreed with De Garden to sell on their goodies to the next F&B business? The ground floor of that part of De Garden now has no more F&B outlet. Chatime, Aliyaa and now Boston have vacated. It is tough to keep an F&B business going in Ipoh.
Now that we know that AEON Kinta City is not packing up as once feared, I’m sure the Ipoh folks are curious what is in the pipeline at the end of the current makeover effort.
Exterior wise apparently they want to bring the appearance of the shopping mall to be more inline with the rest of AEONs around the country. They are also adding awnings to the ground level shops/restaurants, presumably to provide a more appealing look and feel from the outside too?
Inside, this row of shops/F&B outlets are undergoing renovation.
So like I said in one of my earlier post, the ground floor is going to be populated by F&B outlets. But it is not known what outlets will occupy them, apart from the existing names like Sushi King and Johny. And they will be ready in August, which is only 2 months away. I’m sceptical.
Following that, they will renovate the shop lots upstairs. There I really couldn’t care less, as I seldom buy things these days anyway. I do however genuinely hope some decent F&B outlets move in to the ground floor space.
Upmarket cafes were very hot in Ipoh for a while 2-3 years ago. Cafes mushroomed almost everywhere out of a sudden. Many were tastefully decorated, quaint looking, cosy, with everyone one of them seemingly trying to outdo one another. Some have “unique” selling points, like offering self made bread, pastry, high speed Internet connectivity etc. But the fever has died down a little lately, to me anyway. Here is an article that offered some insight into what it is like to run a cafe business in Ipoh.
Some of the business owners are fairly honest when asked about the challenges facing them when running their businesses in Ipoh. Some seemed to either just put on a brave face or they didn’t know where they failed, if I’m being honest. I’ll let you figure out who was or were talking rubbish. But I would agree on the following points for the Ipoh market:
Competition from the popular white coffee, both taste and price
Standalone coffee enjoyment without main meals not so popular here
Appettite for western coffee is there, but market is not big enough to sustain so many cafes
I have no problem with the price points of their coffee. They are their premium offerings, and should rightly charged as they are. But I have a lot of issue with the price points of their other offerings, like desserts, light bites (sandwiches included) and even main meals! They are deluded, thinking that the Ipoh folks earn as much as those in KL and Penang. In fact if I go to KL, I get better (much better) value for money, on both coffee and food! Incredible isn’t it? But it is!
Basically, your business needs to survive and sustain in such competitive environment first, with so many cafes around, and price reasonably. Lower your cost and overhead, target the right audience and offer value to these customers. Ipoh folks always like good bargains, and they will come back to you if you offer them good value. Tourists business is good, but it is often one-off, and there are not that many tourists coming to Ipoh. Businesses in Ipoh need to first and foremost focus on the locals. Otherwise it will be the same old story. You have been warned.
Just received a notice from The Italian Baker that they will be adjusting the prices of their bread from 4th April 2016 onwards. They have been absorbing the 6% GST since April last year when GST went live. There was confusion initially I think because they thought their bread are zero rated. Turned out that not all bread are zero rated.
So from 4th April onwards, a loaf of Massimo Sandwich with wheat germ will retail at RM2.65 (small) and RM3.70 (long), an increase of 15 cents and 20 cents respectively.
Can’t blame them, flour subsidies from the government have been cut lately too. Just more misery for the commoners…
We have been used to yogurt in the UK, thick and creamy, and spoilt with choices on the flavours available. But in Malaysia, at the time when we moved back, the choices of yogurt were very limited, and they didn’t taste anywhere as good as those available in the UK. At one point we have even thought about starting our own yogurt business in Malaysia LOL. But obviously it’s easier said than done and we have no experience in the food manufacturing industry. Anyway we have since found this brand of yogurt to be as good if not better than those we enjoyed back in the UK. It’s called Dairy Farmers. Very pleased with the yogurt. Give it a try. We have not looked back since. We used to buy Yoplait, but have since dished it. But mind you it is on the expensive side, about RM21 a tub (600g).
Updated 31/1/2016: Just found out that you can buy one at Jaya Grocer Ipoh Parade for “only” RM18. The cheapest we can find so far in Ipoh.
Updated 22/02/2016: Muller yogurt is the one we were used to in the UK, and it is now available in Jaya Grocer Ipoh Parade too, but at RM7.90 a pop! Think I will stick to the Dairy Farmers Thick & Creamy yogurt, the Muller yogurt tastes watery in comparison!LOL
Haven’t eaten at Ben’s Burger before. It was very visible from the road and located next to one of the main entrances to Ipoh Parade (opposite of Sam Tet secondary school).
Drove past it about a week ago, and it looked rather dim from the outside. Suspected that it is no longer in business. Happened to be in Ipoh Parade yesterday. Took the effort to walk over there just to confirm (there is actually no entrance to Ben’s Burger from Ipoh Parade). Saw a few Snow Mountain workers outside. They were there to take an extractor fan away.
So Ben’s Burger is indeed closed. Tables, chairs and other bits and pieces are still there. From what I heard, it was closed about a month ago. Ben and Lynette however is still in business, located on ground floor, inside Ipoh Parade. BTW both of them belong to the same company, The Secret Garden (TSG) group. The take up of vacated lot in Ipoh Parade seems rather quick, as there is already a banner outside Ben’s Burger indicating an ice cream shop, it seems, is going to take up the space. Better than any of the AEON it seems.
Here we go, AEON is opening another mall in Ipoh, on 18th December 2015. This time is AEON Big located in Falim, apparently the largest in Malaysia! As I wrote in my earlier post that the recently opened AEON Klebang couldn’t fill up all their retail spaces on their opening day, I think we are going to see even more empty spaces there. With a population of not even close to 1 million, at around 700k, yet Ipoh is going to have four AEONs (Kinta City, Station 18, Klebang and now Falim), a Parkson Ipoh Parade and countless supermarkets cum retail spaces, the retailers are going to be the biggest losers since customers are more and more spread out amongst these places. A recent article on The Star highlighted the similarity between the overcapacity problem in China and Malaysia. Shoppers in Ipoh are not stupid, convenience will ultimately be key after the initial excitement of new shopping malls wane. We shall see which of these shopping malls do worst. My bet is AEON Station 18 will suffer the most.