Q: Introduction of yourself. My name is Nicholas, 38 years old. This café is about 5 months old. We have been managing a saloon for almost 10 years. The concept started off with a coffee machine. I like coffee so I put a coffee machine in the saloon. I will usually operate it and serve
Q: Introduction of yourself.
My name is Nicholas, 38 years old. This café is about 5 months old. We have been managing a saloon for
almost 10 years. The concept started off with a coffee machine. I like coffee so I put a coffee machine in the saloon. I will usually operate it and serve coffee to my customers, of course it was FOC at that time. After that, I notice that a lot of people love coffee and they enjoy my coffee. Besides that, a lot of customers encourage me to start my own café, they are the one who inspired me to do so.
Q: How do you feel about it to have a café adjacent to a hair saloon?
Surprisingly, the feedback is quite good. At first we were worried because the saloon is inside whereas the café sits outside which we thought no one was going to notice the saloon. But it turns out that many café customers have also become a regular at our saloon. Our customers were also the one helping to spread the words when our saloon was moved to the new place earlier.
Q: Why is the name ‘Icon Brewing’?
I’m actually from renovation and designing background. I’m an interior designer and I treat this cafe as part of my showroom, considered an interior showroom. That is why you might see some unique interior, like the table, it is not a table but made of tiles. There are several materials that I mixed on purpose, like you can see wood, metal, cement and tiles. It is easy for me to explain to my customers what is cement, what is tile and how it can be used. There is also a colour board here for customers to choose the colours they like. The café is like 3 in 1: interior design, café and saloon. I find that café is a very unique business as it can connect with many other businesses such as architecture, design or renovation and also lifestyle related. My wife’s profession is a hair stylist. Therefore, we thought why not we combine all 3 and bring them into one.
Q: There are a lot of fusion cafés overseas but not in Malaysia. Where do you get this idea from?
We already have this concept in mind which is to put café and saloon together. Before I decided to make it a showroom, we tried to search for ideas like café with saloon so we traveled to Korea and visited a lot of fusion café, like boutique café, hair saloon café and nail saloon. Is is quite common over there and they are doing quite well. We brought that concept back to Malaysia. Right now, I’m still planning to expand the café with another business, not hair saloon, maybe another business. Café is the center point that connects everything together, like anything we need to discuss, we will just sit down at the cafe and have a coffee talk.
Q: I’ve noticed that there are a lot of small designs. Are they all from your own inspiration?
I will call this as props which are for my customers to take photo with. They use it to take photo with the coffee and food, and they feel happy about it.
Q: I noticed that pets cafés are very trendy right now. It’s a first time for me to see hair saloon café.
I think this is the first one, I haven’t seen any so far. I’ve seen some saloon and café but they are by different owners. If it is the same owner, we can bring the coffee to the hair saloon. And the lady who needs to wait for her hairdo can sit outside and chill.
Q: What do you usually serve? Only light refreshment?
Yes, basically only light refreshment. But we do have hot food as well.
Q: What is the most enjoyable moment while doing this kind of fusion café?
To me is to see what the reaction of the customers is. I know they enjoy coming over, they spend long hours over here, in the saloon and in the café. They treat this as their second home. Some of the customers come here almost three times a week. We also have people who enjoy arts, I’m kind of an art person too, so I invite a lot of them, sometimes, we will conduct calligraphy class as well. Basically, it is the smile on customers that brings the most satisfaction.