GEORGE TOWN, March 11 — When The Northam All Suite Hotel closed its doors last June for a massive two-year renovation, most of its employees were laid off.
Wang Chen Yee, 54, who was the general manager, decided to start a small food business and roped in some of the former hotel employees.
“We were retrenched so I was thinking of what to do next and I wanted to do something to help those who are talented but with nowhere to go,” he said.
This saw the birth of W. Kitchen in late June, a catering and lunch box business located in a shophouse at Arratoon Road in George Town.
The team of about 10 people, all retrenched hotel workers, started producing hotel-quality and reasonably-priced breakfast, lunch and dinner sets for delivery and takeaways.
Wang said his team of four chefs had a menu bank of 300 different dishes so they rotate their menus daily.
“They are experienced hotel chefs so they can cook almost all sorts of cuisine such as Italian, Indian, Malay, Chinese and Thai,” he said.
W. Kitchen releases its menu for the whole week at the end of each week and there are usually two choices for lunch and dinner sets, of either chicken or seafood.
They also supply staff meals to five hotels, one of which is on the mainland, as these hotels do not have their own kitchens or had shut down their kitchens.
“We were struggling when we first started but we slowly built up our customer base and now we are preparing up to 250 packs per day,” he said.
W. Kitchen also provided catering for business meetings and small functions before the movement control order (MCO).
Wang said they sourced all of their ingredients and supplies from halal-certified suppliers and they are now in the midst of applying for halal certification.
“We have Muslim chefs and we only take supplies from halal-certified suppliers to ensure our food is halal,” he said.
They have submitted their application for halal certification but it is a long process that could take up to a year.
During the MCO, Wang said they didn’t do catering so they focused on supplying bulk orders from offices, workplaces, hospitals and various residential areas.
“We use our own riders, we are not relying on food delivery services like Grab or Foodpanda as we want to make sure our food arrives hot and on time,” he said.
Each order is prepared fresh and delivered at the exact time it was requested by the customer.
He said this is because some customers are particular and want their meals to arrive at exactly noon, not earlier or later, so his own riders will be able to meet that request.
“We have different riders to cover different areas for efficiency and to make sure the food arrives still hot,” he said.
W. Kitchen also gives back to the community as it supplies packed meals to senior citizens’ homes and charitable non-governmental organisations (NGOs) at a heavily discounted rate.
Wang said they often provide those meals at a loss and consider it as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) to help the less fortunate.
Since each meal is prepared fresh, all orders for breakfast, lunch and dinner have to be made in advance the day before.
He said they usually do not have any leftovers as all meals are made to order and sometimes they might not have enough for last minute orders.
Though the shop has a few tables for dine-in, Wang said he was wary of the high number of Covid-19 cases so he would prefer to serve delivery or takeaways.
I’ve been trying to get customers to try curbside pickup, they can call in their orders and state what time they are coming, then they can stop outside and pick up their orders,” he said.
He said not many customers are used to this but he hopes more will try it out as it is convenient especially for those ordering takeaways.
He said those who prefer to dine in may do so but like delivery and takeaway customers, they have to call in and make reservations a day ahead.
He said their dine-in service was doing very well during the recovery movement control order (RMCO) but that stopped due to the MCO.
“I am also worried that with dine-in, if a case is detected at the shop, the business will have to be closed for 14 days,” he said.
Set meals are from RM10 onwards and the menu includes dishes like grilled teriyaki chicken chop with rice, tom yam seafood spaghetti, kampung fried rice with fried chicken, sambal petal with mixed seafood and rice, tandoori fish and nyonya curry fish.
Customers may also choose to add on fresh fruits and organic soy bean milk for an additional RM3.
W. Kitchen is open daily from 7am till 7pm. Their weekly menu is available on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/wkitchen2u/ and orders can be made directly to 012-7545877.
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