Top-notch casual Japanese-western fusion cafe in Bukit Jalil


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Editor update: Due to the previous title which causes misunderstandings that the stated figure (200,000 RM / month) is earnings, it has been edited for clarity.

Scroll through CC by Mel’s On the Instagram page, I was drawn to dishes that were decorated with colorful edible flowers. It looked more than your average place to eat and drink.

The state-of-the-art relaxed dining area opened in January 2021 and is located in the Bukit Jalil residential area. Not only was this the start of MCO 2.0, but the location itself is quiet, with a few passersby wandering around.

Despite these challenges, Mel’s eight-month CC now earns an average income of RM 200,000 per month.

From fresh flowers to fresh ingredients

Melanie Pong is the founder of Mel by CC. The entrepreneur was a florist from home with the ambition to start a flower studio to hold workshops. A small portion of the studio would also be segmented as a coffee shop, so customers could have a cup of coffee as they join classes.

But as the MCO hit, her flower business suffered, so she gave up on launching the idea for the cafe. Now came the question of what kind of food it would serve.

Being a fan of Japanese cuisine, she knew it would somehow be a part of her dishes. Wanting to stand out from the crowd of Japanese restaurants in KL, she decided to switch to fusion food.

“My passion for flowers also gave me the idea to incorporate floral concepts into food. So I decided to improve my food presentation by using edible flowers, making sure the food was colorful to attract customers and cameras, ”Melanie told the Vulcan Post.

Spray vivid colors in your dishes / Image credit: Anson photo

Because the newcomer fights for customers on crowded delivery platforms, CC by Mel’s decorated plates can give them the advantage of being different.

Carrying prices between the RM22-RM68 for dishes like Smoked Duck Shoulders and the Trio Taco Box, the café is certainly positioned as a superbly relaxed dining spot. If you are familiar with other top restaurants like Calia Malaysia, these prices should come as no surprise.

Melanie explained that the team also uses fresh ingredients, and all meals are prepared on the same day to order, instead of being pre-cooked. “I designed it so that customers can get a top-notch dining experience at an affordable price while enjoying good Japanese-Western food,” she said.

But it started with losses

With an initial capital of RM 150,000, CC by Mel was to start with a small team of 2 chefs and 1 kitchen assistant. While Melanie was building the cafe, she realized that the budget was not enough to cover the expensive kitchen equipment. The team also continued to grow as fresh ingredients required a lot of preparatory work, which meant additional costs were incurred.

What was supposed to be a small flower studio with an adjoining cafe has now materialized into a two-story shop to house the kitchen and dining room.

As a new company, CC by Mel was in a tight cash position and made a loss in the first two months. A lot of money was spent on marketing to compete on delivery platforms that had high commissions with weekly payouts.

A small pleasant place for socializing and dining / Image Credit: CC by Mel

The cafe also had to pay ingredient suppliers without credit terms because the company was in its infancy with no results so far to prove its loyalty to repayment.

Moreover, the team did not have enough data on the production of cafes, and they ordered ingredients based on estimates. This was a risk because most premium fresh produce has a short shelf life and the excess will be considered a waste.

“We didn’t have a proper system at the time and we always had to spend extra costs to procure ingredients from GrabMart and Lalamove due to inexperience in predicting ingredients,” Melanie said.

Despite the whirlwind, Melanie said she did not regret Mel launching the CC during the lock.

“It’s a good opportunity for us to learn [about running a] to survive a job in difficult times like these and come out with a perfect kitchen flow, ”she said optimistically. It was probably a good practice for the team when the cafe managed to welcome guests in a short period of time between April and May 2021.

Things were getting better

CC by Mel has finally started earning with a 30% monthly growth rate. The short meal period was when more customers found out about the brand.

Melanie predicted that the Bukit Jalil site would be a strategic choice in the long run as it is a developing settlement with many food-poor residents. “Customers in this area are mostly families or employed adults and have high purchasing and spending power,” she explained.

Team for kitchen and service in the cafe / Image Credit: CC by Mel

To date, Melanie has reported that CC by Mel receives about 350 to 400 orders per week, generating a gross revenue of RM 200,000 per month for now.

In the future when dinners will be allowed again, Melanie aims to achieve a monthly sales growth rate of 10% in her cafe. While she still hopes to have space to run flower shops, she opined that Mel by CC would have to expand before that happens, given the now limited seating space.

  • You can find out more about CC from Mel here.
  • You can read other articles related to F&B that we have written here.

Credit for the featured image: Melanie Pong, founder or CC by Mel


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