Brian Chin remembers a childhood when he, his parents and two siblings shared a single room. 32 years ago, his parents David and Maureen used the rest of their home as a makeshift central kitchen for their business, Dave & # 39; s Deli.
At 37, David was looking for an alternative to his company job. He decided it was time to continue his passion for a cooking career in 1989.
David raised the family's savings of RM 30,000 and opened a booth at the food court in Bangsar Shopping Center.
“In the early days it was my parents and 1 employee. Everything was done in the house through trial and error. They used to work 15 hours a day, 7 days a week and we (the kids) helped wherever we could, ”Brian recalled the Vulcan Post.
Fill the cake
The restaurant in the 90s and its food today / Image Credit: Dave & # 39; s Deli
What began as a sandwich bar evolved to serve fried chicken and gourmet cakes, influenced by David's time studying in New Zealand.
Since there was no social media back then, the home cook had to rely solely on word of mouth. As the local western food scene in Malaysia was rather uninspiring 30 years ago, the news soon spread.
Dave's Deli was a breath of fresh air, and there were queues in front of the food court with guests eager to devour their meals.
Brian believes the main factor was their appreciation for the homemade dishes, and it also reminded many of their own time overseas. Now they could finally try the real fried chicken, sandwiches and cakes made on site.
Their signature neighborhood fried chicken and cake / Photo credit: Dave & # 39; s Deli
Excited, Brian shared, "In fact, the first roast chicken Dad ever made was the first roast chicken he ever sold."
"Shortly thereafter, my mother quit her job as a lecturer at UM to do full time. She provided a much-needed structure for the company to grow, and it did!"
Within two years, Dave & # 39; s Deli moved and opened his own restaurant in Jaya Shopping Center, PJ. Today it is a franchise company with 7 branches in shopping malls around Klang Valley and Penang. This was their rise and fall to survive the pandemic.
Surf the waves of 2020
While the dine-in sales of the delicatessen stores were influenced by MCO and SOPs, their franchise company generated delivery revenues of over RM 6 million for 2020.
The fact that they were on delivery platforms before the lockdowns resulted in a huge increase in their customer base thanks to better visibility. and increased brand awareness.
As such, their food, previously only available in shopping malls, became available to those who preferred to dine at home and in offices.
However, staying in malls meant that overhead costs were a heavy burden during the pandemic. With high commissions from delivery partners and limited radii, grocery deliveries alone were not a sustainable main source of income.
For Dave & # 39; s Deli, this is instead viewed as an additional source of income.
Data-driven decisions instead of risk taking have helped us adapt to changing situations and add additional streams of income. Optimizing the menu, working closely with our delivery partners, working together on promotions, cost-effective marketing strategies and building healthy cash reserves all helped us prepare for 2021.
David Chin, Managing Director of Dave & # 39; s Deli.
A launch pad for budding entrepreneurs
Franchising has always been part of the deli business’s growth strategy as they believe there is strong demand for their groceries that extend beyond the location. In addition, it gives people who are interested in the food industry but have little to no experience a chance to get a head start.
"The franchise system allows us to diversify our resources into other revenue streams instead of focusing on opening our own restaurants," said Brian.
"I also believe that there is a much higher rate of success when the franchise owner is fully invested and has a better understanding of the local market in which they operate."
While the company's own products are made in a central kitchen, meals are still prepared in-house. Quality control and human error – risks every franchise faces – are mitigated by an ultimate team.
Over 32 years food trends have evolved and Dave & # 39; s Deli has tried to keep pace with keeping its signature dishes. Apart from trendy products like the chicken chop with salted egg, the brand's roast chickens, cakes and sandwiches remain the bestsellers.
Brian reckoned the company's success and longevity came from persistence and understanding of its customer base.
"Customers know that when they dine at Dave & # 39; s Deli they are enjoying a place of comfort that warms the soul," concluded Brian.
The Naked Lunch Box promotes green eating, while Cafe Bistrot David is for gourmet food / Image credit: The Naked Lunch Box and Cafe Bistrot David
But the family doesn't let consumer trends slip by either. This led to the launch of The Naked Lunchbox for healthy foods and Cafe Bistrot David for gourmet convenience foods, run by David Chin himself.
His parents are still part of Dave & # 39; s Deli today. 69-year-old David has since retired, but is in charge of the business. Maureen is now responsible for the central kitchen and administration department.
Brian shared that one of his goals this year is to convert the brand's Halal-owned merchandise into frozen convenience foods like frozen cakes.
The idea is to serve the masses and access markets that Dave & # 39; s Deli is not operating. The ultimate goal for him, of course, is to make their own Malaysian-made goods and export them to the overseas halal markets.
- You can find out more about Dave & # 39; s Deli here.
- More F&B articles that we wrote here can be found here.
Selected image source: Dave & # 39; s Deli