Kuala Lumpur, 12 June 2020 – While many small businesses are facing an urgent need to think of fresh ideas to survive the COVID-19 led financial crisis, those most acutely affected are in the major event, hospitality, tourism, festival and catering businesses. Social distancing and the severe curtailment of most travel have effectively shut down many of these industries.
However, for Lynn it was a call to diversify her business when she had to abruptly halt her catering for events and corporate functions.
During the MCO and restricted dining, some Malaysian turned into home cooking while juggling with kids and office work. However, when busy families do cook at home, the process of preparation, cooking, and cleanup is stressful. Forgoing home-cooked meals and family dinners eat into the quality of life and leaves individuals and families feeling unnourished and lacking. Eating healthy with a varied meal plan is also difficult for those with strapped time and energy to cook at home. Considering this, Lynn decided to venture into tiffin style meals for families and working adults who are too busy to cook .
While this shift from doing event to tiffin style meals took a few days to get used to, Lynn admitted that it also took a bit of courage to step out of her comfort zone. About 12 years ago , upon setting up her restaurant, Lynn got her first orders for events and corporate functions through her dine-in customers. During peak seasons, she used to cater up to 30 events a day. Stepping into tiffin meal business meant that she had to adjust the menu to appear more “home-cooked” and attractive for the customers.
The launch of the tiffin meals during the crisis fortunately saw a positive response from the customers. “The moment we launched the tiffin meals, the orders started increasing every day,” said Lynn excitedly. They were finding the freshly prepped meal-in-a-box with fixed menu on rotation each day an ease on their burden to cook.
All meals are portion-controlled and balanced, with ingredients purchased locally. The menu is diverse and inventive, reflecting a fusion of Malay, Chinese and Western cuisine. Meals are prepared in using strict cooking procedures to ensure safety and consistency. Meals are never frozen, and no preservatives or excess fats and oils are ever used. Basically it resembles home-cooked meals.
Lynn said mutton curry and rendang chicken, were among top requested dishes from customers. Her Thai Mango Chicken and Asam Pedas Tenggiri are quite a hit, and when butter prawns are on the menu, the number of orders spikes. “The orders could go up to 200 pax per day every day,” Lynn said.
Delivering the food is the biggest challenge. She said in this age and time, with everything moving so fast and services were available at the touch of a button, people wanted to have their lunch or dinner delivered to them timely. Single adults and working couples would prefer to have their lunch and dinner on time, hence the food is delivered through in-house riders within KL to Klang. This she says helps her to take control of the safety and hygiene of the food.
Despite the challenges that this pandemic brought, Lynn believes that she can weather the crisis. “I am not sure if events will carry on as usual after this, however we have trained an agile team that can adapt to whatever uncertainity comes next. Since online delivery is surging and eating in is the new dining out, we have to be adaptable and I see this as a new window of opportunity,” she explained.
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