“Passion is sexy. But it takes more than that to sustain a business – whether in the food business or other fields.”
Malaysians are food connoisseurs – after all, we're all surrounded by good food of all flavours and cuisines all the time. New cafes open up... and unfortunately, many close down as well. So what does it take to survive in Malaysia’s super challenging food scene?
By being different. Take La Juiceria for example. It first started as a juice business but from there ended up in the F&B industry with cafes like Goodness Greens, La Juiceria Superfoods, La Juiceria Superfoods Signature and Super Saigon. “We try to get out of our comfort zone. By continuing to evolve, we continue to be relevant in the market,” says Anabelle Co-Martinent, the brand’s Managing Director and Founder.
It helps too that La Juiceria was one of the first in the eat-healthy food scene in Malaysia (“People remember our name,” shares Co-Martinent). Tired of greasy and calorific food as well as inspired to make better food choices, Malaysians are now turning to healthier food to give their diet a better balance. So if you’re eating a burger today, you can easily have your veggie and fruit boost tomorrow with concepts like La Juiceria.
Though it wasn’t an easy task to change mindsets, says the founder. “I wasn’t sure if Malaysians were ready for a healthy concept café or to fork out more than RM12 for a bottle of juice. One of our biggest challenges was to squeeze into the ‘unhealthy’ Malaysian F&B space. It’s not easy to convert a person’s eating habits but knowing that every day we are helping people stay healthy or get into a better lifestyle with the juices and food we create – that’s what keeps us going,” says Co-Martinent.
FIT FOR BUSINESS SURVIVAL
What makes La Juiceria different from the other healthy cafes popping up now? Says Co-Martinent, “We are more than just a healthy concept café. We have included caloric counts and ingredients to our café’s menus. We have a team of nutritionists who curate the content of nutritional benefits of our offerings, organise nutritional talks and juicing/cooking demonstrations. Innovation is also our key to success as our R&D team is always on the lookout for improved formulas for cold-pressed juices, latest food trends and how to create healthier recipes that are acceptable by the Malaysian taste buds.”
If there is anything at Co-Martinent learnt about business viability, especially in the F&B industry, it’s this: “The first year is exciting, the second year is all about sustaining, and the third year you get tired, your employees get tired because there’s no growth. We had to constantly move forward. Passion is sexy. But it takes more than that to sustain a business – whether in the food business or other fields. Passion can only get you as far as the front door. Once you enter the room, there are many other aspects that need your attention in order for it to be successful.”