Brought my daughter to Tutti Frutti in Medan Gopeng today because she kept pestering us to bring her there, claiming that we haven’t brought her there to eat yogurt for ages already. But when we were finally there this afternoon, the Tutti Frutti shop is no longer in business. What a disappointment for my daughter. This means that there is probably only one Tutti Frutti left in Ipoh, in Ipoh Parede. There used to be one in De Garden and one in Station 18 too. They have since packed up, in that order. You see, franchise businesses are not guaranteed to do well. And Ipoh is, in particular, a tough nut to crack.
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.
So it’s official this time, that Movie Animation Park Studios (MAPS) is opening on the 26th June 2017. Despite all the rumours that they can’t make its opening in June, we now have an official date to look forward to, finally. For those who have bought an annual pass, you are advised to get your photo ID done on your first visit to MAPS. The annual pass will be valid from their opening date (not on the date of your first visit, remember!) for a year. Those who have bought a day pass during their promotional period will have their day pass valid for three months from their opening date. If you haven’t bought any yet, you can purchase a day pass from their ticketing website at https://ticketing.mapsperak.com/.
Hope this theme park is going to bring many many tourists to Ipoh, projected to be one million a year! And that it will help boost the economic activities in Ipoh, which has been dire in my opinion for the past 2 years!
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.
Actually I first heard about this outlet, located opposite of Super Kinta (now UTC), closing last year, from someone who owns McDonald’s in Ipoh. I was taken aback by the news at the time, considering that it was the first McDonald’s in Ipoh, somewhat iconic, and probably meant a lot to many who used to hang out there after school since the late 80’s. I remember asking for donations around that area for my school. And it was a luxury to be able to afford eating in McDonald’s. Not so much happy memories, but they are memories of my past nevertheless..
So they are finally closing up shop next month. And it is the second McDonald’s to close shop after the one in AEON Kinta City last July. Again they are in favour of 24 hours drive-thru model, more profitable. Especially for this outlet since this part of town is not as busy as it used to be. So it’s good bye to this McDonald’s outlet then.
It’s been over three years now since I stopped climbing the corporate ladder. To be honest I really don’t miss working in a big corporate environment. The pressure to perform just gets more and more intense as you are more and more senior in the company. And I am not one who will always try to seek opportunity to be visible infront of senior management. Hence life gets depressing during appraisal when boss then tries to play down your contribution, because visibility infront of senior management is important in order to justify a glowing review of performance.
Now that I run my business, whilst there is a whole new dimension of stress that comes with it, at least the peer pressure and expectation from bosses are off for me. I need to worry about money (cash flow) a lot more, but at least I do not need to appear like I am intentionally stepping on others to climb up the corporate ladder. That is one aspect I do not like, as I prefer relationship with my colleagues to be less competitive in nature. And I stop worrying about how much I earn (salary) compare to my peers nowadays, because I have taken a very different path. I owe the bank a lot of money (corporate debt) with a business, and income (profit) is a lot more variable when compared to a fixed salary job. But in a way I think I am happier because I don’t need to get stressed out as much going to work with some insufferable colleagues always looking to impress.
Okay I also need to throw in more time running a business, and it can be exhausting too, so I am heading for a rest now. Goodnight!
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…