Photo by Duchamp

Photo by Duchamp

We have come to Episode 13, which is the final episode of the Sun Tzu series, and it’s one which brings us to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; a country which has not been covered so far in this series. Here, James Sun meets up with a lady called Sun-Ann Wong (“Su-Ann”) who runs a café cum pub called Palate Palette. There is a reason for the phonetic play on the two words, which we shall see later! This café was set up three years ago and offers more than just food and drink; it also serves as a place for regulars to rest and relax. However, it remains small as there have been no attempts or plans made for expansion.

Su-Ann is a London-trained graphics designer and she had entered the restaurant industry 3 years ago to start up a café which boasted creative artwork and murals on its walls, in order to provide a refreshing concept as compared to other more “mundane” cafés. However, James quips that “standing on the defensive indicates insufficient strength”, implying that her business model is not strong enough for her to expand and grow the business. In the Food and Beverage (F&B) industry, competition is always very keen and margins are therefore razor-thin. Palate Palette was making a marginal profit but at the expense of Su-Ann putting in a lot of work and effort; and the fact was also that it was stagnant and not growing. Her partner, who had opened the café along with her at the time, had left and thus she has to handle everything (one-woman show!).

The interior of the café is filled with very creative artwork and graphics and this makes up the feel of the restaurant and helps to attract customers and patrons. On the second floor, a space has been set aside for private parties and events. There is also a marketing website with information on events held and Su-Ann relies on word of mouth to spread the news about her café. Read more…