F&B

This M’sian Coworking Kitchen Is A Smart Rebranding Of A Concept That Already Exists

Cloud kitchens have now become a common way for F&B businesses to start up with low capital as they’re essentially ready-to-use kitchen spaces.

These businesses don’t have to take on the risk of a long-term space rental and expend capital on cooking ware, amongst other initial costs.

While TCH Foodworks Co-Working Foodlab works in a fairly similar way, it doesn’t brand itself as a cloud kitchen and uses the term “coworking kitchen” instead.

It wasn’t intentionally built as a cloud kitchen, which means its space can only accommodate one long-term brand in its commercial kitchen.

The culinary studio is an extension of The Cooking House (TCH), a culinary school established in 2006 by Edyth Ban.

From what we could observe then, it seemed as if TCH Foodworks Co-Working Foodlab is targeting smaller solopreneurs like Insta home bakers over larger F&B businesses with established teams.

The latter would generally be found in the common industrial cloud kitchens.

To further understand how this coworking kitchen was different, we spoke to Edyth.

Support For Those Working Solo

“We cater to smaller solopreneurs, where they can just rent a station or a small baking studio to test and film their creations,” Edyth confirmed.

“At the same time, we also rent the space out to production companies and food brands to conduct shoots, FB live sessions as well as all sorts of events and launches.”

Some behind-the-scenes of food styling happening at the culinary studio / Image Credit: TCH

There is a large hands-on kitchen hall that equipped with 10 mobile cooking stations that are individually rented out hourly, daily or weekly.

“We also have a smaller private kitchen studio that is fitted with 4 stations and a commercial Rational combi oven for people who need short-term space for catering, R&D, production, recruitment, or special projects, etc.” Edyth explained.

Aside from that, they have one commercial kitchen that they intend to rent out to a small F&B operator with a food delivery business model.

“We present our space as more of a ‘lifestyle’ coworking studio as most cloud kitchens out there are very commercial-looking with mostly stainless steel tables and equipment,” Edyth pointed out.

TCH Foodworks Co-Working Foodlab would be most suited to those who aren’t particular about cooking in a halal certified space, though the venue is pork and lard free.

For those who need them, the coworking kitchen also provides marketing services which include recipe ideation and creation, food tasting, trainings, chef demonstrations, social media content creation, FB live screenings, food styling, food photography and videography services.

The team behind making the space work / Image Credit: TCH

Flexible But Pricey

Cookhouse is another culinary studio carrying the concept of a shared kitchen with individual stations, and their daily pass of 12 hours costs RM400 (RM200 of refundable deposit).

On the other hand, a 12-hour rental at TCH Foodworks Co-Working Foodlab costs about RM700.

The latter’s rates are certainly more flexible though, as you can book the space for as short as 2 hours, albeit at a price of RM200.

However, Edyth clarified that these are simply their published rates for now, and that they’re still in the midst of adjusting them according to market sentiment.

Other than those fixed rates, they also offer:

  • Free extended hours and free setup time when prospects enquire with them,
  • Customised packages crafted per someone’s requirements, where their budget is sometimes asked to see if they can be accommodated,
  • Barter trading (on occasion) of their space with the prospect’s services to achieve a win-win collaboration.

While TCH Foodworks Co-Working Foodlab’s current pricier rates may seem like a deterrent, they’ve proven that there is a demand for their services.

They’ve already had some tenants and have earned approximately RM60,000-RM70,000 in revenue since launching in February.

They’re also fully booked for September, with clients like Astro who will be using it for 2 weeks for their shoot, an F&B restaurant renting it for a week to interview chefs, and a health food company that will be using it for 10 days to produce granola bars.

And since they’re filled for September, their efforts to market the coworking kitchen will only start in October.

A Favourable Situation For The Biz

During the pandemic, we saw a sharp rise of people who began experimenting with baking and selling their bakes on social media platforms.

It’s people like these that Edyth sees as potential tenants, so their short-term goal is to first create awareness of TCH Foodworks Co-Working Foodlab’s existence.

In the long term, they want to provide their tenants with more than just a space by creating a close community for networking and value-added learning.

“There’s definitely huge opportunities for growth in the coworking kitchen sector as setting up a kitchen costs a lot,” Edyth said.

“COVID-19 has resulted in a boom in the food delivery business and many people would want to find ways to tap into this market.”

To be honest, based on their rates, I’m not sure if a solo F&B entrepreneur just starting out would be able to afford their space.

I see it as more for entrepreneurs who already have an existing customer base and stable revenue that want to scale their businesses.

Nonetheless, I have no doubt that there will still be a crowd for their services, as their track record has proven so thus far.

Furthermore, their prices may be tweaked in the future to better accommodate people’s budgets in the new normal.

Editor’s Note (01/09/2020): Parts of this article have been updated with more information from Edyth to clarify certain statements.

  • You can find out more about TCH Foodworks Co-Working Foodlab here.
  • You can read more F&B related articles here.

Featured Image Credit: TCH

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