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A salad and a side order of chairs
Publication Date : 08-01-2014
Have you ever walked into a restaurant and wondered if you could own a piece of furniture in the shop?
Brothers Ierfan and Adam Azriff answered the question with their business Wood & Steel Cafe in Kota Damansara, Petaling Jaya, that also sells custom-made furniture apart from catering to coffee lovers.
It all began when Ierfan, an interior design graduate, had the idea to open up a furniture gallery.
He says his love of furniture is a result of growing up with a father who runs a furniture shop.
“I used to help him with the shop and gained some experience from there,” said Ierfan.
The 21-year-old said he decided to open his own furniture gallery right after graduation.
Meanwhile, his younger brother Adam was working as a barista for one of the well-known coffee shops in Kuala Lumpur.
With two years of experience in the world of coffee making, he decided that starting his own cafe would be a better proposition.
“When Ierfan proposed the idea of opening his gallery, I thought why not open a cafe that sells furniture,” said Adam.
Everything in the cafe is up for sale — from the long table, stools, coffee tables, lightings to the cabinets and shelves.
The furniture is mainly made from wood such as teak, rain tree, and pine wood and finished with glass and steel.
Patrons of the cafe may notice the price tags attached to the furniture.
“It is a stimulating experience for the customers as they will be having their meals on the pieces of furniture they are planning to buy,” said Ierfan.
He added that the customers are able to try out the furniture and have a feel of what it will be like when they bring the pieces home.
Since the pieces in the cafe are up for sale, the furniture is constantly being moved and replaced.
“We would replace the furniture every two weeks, so customers have a different experience each time they visit,” said Ierfan.
He also uses excess wood from the furniture to create new things, such as table lamps.
“We try not to waste resources. For example, we used old wheels to make the back of a chair and wheel-based glass table,” he said.
As a result, Ierfan’s creations are one-of-a-kind and limited in number.
“The furniture is also affordable, ranging in price from 100 ringgit (US$30.44) to 6,000 ringgit,” he said.
Although the cafe and gallery only opened its doors in November, Ierfan said the response has been positive, with sales from the furniture in the first month raking in 50,000 ringgit.
The cafe itself has an industrial feel, with the bare cement and exposed red-brick walls.
Also noteworthy are the lighting fixtures made from steel pipe that bath the cafe in soft diffused glow.
The brothers have paid close attention to the details of their business, from the interior designs to food.
While Ierfan is the creative mind of the duo, it is clear that the 19-year-old Adam is the one with the business mind. The pair say it is the kind of dynamic that works to run such a business.
Adam is responsible for the menu of mainly breakfast meals with cheeky names such as Champion’s Breakfast and Breakfast in Bed with the usual sausages, eggs, baked beans and toasted bread as the main ingredients.
“Currently we are catering to the breakfast crowd, though we will be introducing a lunch menu soon,” he said.
The prices for the food are also affordable, ranging from 10 ringgit to 20 ringgit and a cup of mocha costs 9 ringgit.
“We try not to make the cafe just a place for coffee, but also a place for friends to hang out and have conversations,” he said.
Combining a restaurant and a gallery seems to be a growing trend especially in the Klang Valley.
For instance, Elegantology Gallery & Restaurant in the Publika mall in Sri Hartamas in KL, combines fashion, cocktails and gourmet meals served with elegance to its customers.
Elegantology is a collaboration between noted Malaysian fashion designer Beatrice Looi, celebrity chefs Sherson Lian and Johnny Fua, and cognac brand Martell.
The joint effort to develop a creative space for emerging talent stemmed from a mutual goal of supporting the local creative platforms of fashion and gastronomy.
During an interview with The Star's MetroBiz, Lian said Malaysians were initially a bit confused when the restaurant opened.
“At first they were not sure whether Elegantology was a clothes boutique or a restaurant. But as time passed, we started to get the recognition and Malaysians are now open to other kind of possibilities,” he said.
He added that the Malaysian market is always up for trying something new. “Once they try and like it, they will come back,” he said.
The restaurant is divided into two segments, with half of the floor filled with racks of clothes and the other half dedicated to the dining tables.
Lian gained experience in the food and beverage industry as he ran a family-owned F&B business as soon as he finished high school.
“Running my own restaurant is no different then what I did before, but of course the stress level is different. I just learnt to manage it,” he said.
He adds that the business has its challenges and things were be a bit slow during the fasting month, though it is now picking up.
“We are having Chinese New Year promotion where each diner will be given a fortune cookie. Instead of a fortune, we will have a special prize for a lucky diner,” he said.
Lian added that Elegantology will be having more promotions around the festive seasons in 2014.
“We work around the menu to offer diners with traditional festive dishes,” he said.
Although the restaurant and gallery now only carries men’s clothes, Lian said they are looking to cater for women as well.
“It is still in the planning stages,” he said.
*US$1 = 3.29 ringgit