Monday, August 27, 2007

Kelantan Delight - goodbye and good luck!

MIKHAIL S Zhovner walked into the Kelantan Delight restaurant at KLCC last week asking if he can try the nasi kerabu, a famous rice dish from Kelantan and the east coast. He insisted that he wanted to try the rice because it was recommended by the author of a Russian tour guide book!

Restaurant owner Juhaidi just couldn't believe his ears. Here was a genuine Russian tourist, who hails from Moscow, and was asking for nasi kerabu! Zhovner had walked into the restaurant on Aug 22 with four other friends who had all heard about the dish and were so eager to try it out.

But they were disappointed. They came on the closing night of the famous restaurant. The kitchen has been closed and the owners had instead organised a private function to say Thank You to their loyal patrons over the years. Instead, the Russians were treated to the buffet spread and went away happy and cheerful.

You see, Kelantan Delight had to close it doors to customers, and have to move out to a new location near KL Sentral in the next couple of months. High rental and some strange policy used by the management of KLCC Suria had forced the restaurant to close.

Its owners, Juhaidi and Zainab, have been at KLCC since 1997, operating at first from the food court before opening a proper restaurant, one that has done so well, beyond the expectation of its owners.

I had thought that Juhaidi had invited the Russians to the restaurant's final night, a sort of farewell to regular customers and friends. As it turned out, the Russians were indeed genuine tourists.

The restaurant is no stranger to local and foreign food hunters; and they seldom go home disappointed. Specialties such as lompat tikam (desset) have long been a favourite of many. My favourite is the daging masak merah and tom yam.

On the closing night, Juhaidi had invited orphans and old folks and gave then a treat. With Ramadhan just round the corner, I thought that it was a fitting farewell. The owners of Kelantan Delights are not shy of sharing their wealth with the less privileged and have-nots.

Many people have good memories of Kelantan Delight. The owners have done well for themselves, especially for sticking to their guns when they opened the restaurant 10 years ago. The naysayers have been plentiful, but most have been won over.

But Juhaidi did not succeeed in winning over the policy makers at KLCC Suria. It seems that retail outlets at KLCC Suria have to refurbish and refresh their outlets regularly to maintain a 'new' look all the time. This costs money, big money.

And not many retailers have the capacity or deep pockets to do this, without eating into their margines. Operators like Juhaidi and Zainab braved the competition and did well for themselves. But to continue operating at the KLCC, they have to spend more to make their outlet look 'new and fresh.'

And how would they recover their costs after spending on renovations and new tables and chairs? Pass them to customers? Would the rental remain the same after all the renovations? No way! Rental will go up and the price of the lompat tikam and daging masak merah will all carry new and revised (upwards that it) price tags!

I wish Juhaidi and Zainab will find a more reasonable landlord when they reopen soon. They are a victim of their own success. Good luck with your new outlet!

4 comments:

A KADIR JASIN said...

Juhaidi

You said: “High rental and some strange policy used by the management of KLCC Suria had forced the restaurant to close.

But Sdr I am sure a fighter and a good soul like Juhaidi will survive.

When I was his boss, I "punished" him for "offending" the King.

Of course I was the one who had to "mengadap" (with Tan Sri Gen (R) Mohd Ghazali Che Mat and Tan Sri Mohd Desa Pachi).

He took the punishment well and went on to become a very good reporter.

The closure of Kelantan Delight at KLCC is a classic example of the Bumiputera policies taking the back seat in this new era of GLCs and KPI.

This is free enterprise at its best or its worse.

Why should KLCC management bother about a Juhaidi, a Kelantan or a Kedah delight if others are willing and able to pay more for the space?

Even my doctors at Twin Tower Medical Centre are being "squeezed" literally.

This is capitalism at its best or its worse.

This is what you get when you impose KPI on public sector managers and demand higher and higher profits from GLCs. And when the Government is in business to compete with Bumiputeras.

Why should they bother about Bumiputera policies or corporate social responsibility when money is their god?

It would appear that as a business centre like KLCC flourishes fewer and fewer Bumiputeras are able to benefit from it.

This is a classic case of the marginalisation of the Bumiputeras. Since I am a part time businessman, I can say this with a measure of authority. GLCs are not interested to assist Bumiputeras!

It had happened at all major shopping complexes. It's now happening at government-owned KLCC.

And you may want to ask what guarantee do we have that it'll not also happen at IDR, Northern Corridor, Eastern Corridor and in all other mega projects.

Who are the second-class citizens now?

Thank you and I wish Juhaidi and his wife all the best at their new place.

nujum said...

Datuk,

Apa yang berlaku kepada Kelantan Delighst kerana kegagalan akhbar-akhbar Melayu untuk menyokong dan memberi tekanan kepada pengurusan KLCC. Mereka datang memohon bantuan akhbar Melayu malangnya rintihan mereka hanya di keluarkan di ruangan forum - tiada lagi susulan apa yang terjadi kepada mereka. Inilah dunia kita sekarang - terpaksa berjuang bersendirian - tetapi perjuangan ini pasti akan gagal seperti yang diperkatakan oleh Tun Dr. M kalau kita hendak berjaya seorang sahaja yang berjuang tidak akan membuahkan hasil dan saya percaya sekiranya perjuangan Kelantan Delight disokong oleh semua pihak pastinya ia akan terus berada di KLCC.

Apa yang menyedihkan Datuk, Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi sendiri tidak mengetahui apa yang berlaku kepada peniaga-peniaga Melayu di KLCC.

Semasa mesyuarat Majli Tertinggi pada Rabu lepas - seorang wartawan menanyakan mengenai rintihan peniaga-peniaga Melayu ini di mana dari 300 orang peniaga Melayu di KLCC pada 1997 kini hanya tinggal 10 orang peniaga Melayu tetapi dengan penutupan Kelantan Delight sekarang ini mungkin tinggal 9 shaja.

Apa jawapan PM kepada soalan tersebut, ``Mengapa jadi bergitu'' Maksudnya Perdana Menteri tidak apa yang berlaku.

Soalan tersebut tidak terus terjawab oleh PM apabila Bendahari UMNO kata ia akan beri taklimat kepada PM nanti.

Nampaknya Datuk, peniaga-peniaga Melayu yang kini tidak boleh berharapkan UMNO untuk mendapatkan bantuan - kita perlu berjuang sendiri untuk hidup.

Saya doakan selamat berjaya kepada Juhaidi - dan saya akan makan di Kelantan Delight apabila dibuka di KL Sentral nanti walaupun tidak kira berapa harga yang dikenakan. Kalau saya mampu makan di Restoran Jepun,Korea, Lebanon dan Penang Village sudah tentunya saya mampu makan di Kelantan Delight walaupun harga dikenakan RM50 walaupun saya tahu Nasi Dagang dan Nasi Kerabu di luar hanya RM3.50

Anonymous said...

So you want KLCC management to give special treatment to bumiputeras? This is KLCC, not BB plaza ok. Why is the policy strange? KLCC is a world class mall. If nando's, La cucur and the other stores can renovate, why can't kelantan delights follow the same policy? I don't believe Suria KLCC is mistreating the bumiputeras at all. You guys just do not like the "strange" policy. Too bad! Move out then because there is a long list of tenants who need the space.

Suria KLCC is so successful because the stores are always new and fresh and that's the way all malls should be.

Anonymous said...

great...i love kelantan delites, the food is awesome, can i know where is the current shop located? send me email at mustaffa.taha@gmail.com