“There was one time, our staff got possessed. And we had to stop operating for a moment. Then we got an imam to come and heal him,” Rohzairee said.
That alone should tell you that business at Bunian The Haunted Cafe is unlike anything else.
Infusing creepy folklore with food
Rohzairee Zainal and Aqilah Faqihah first bought the shoplot with no real plans, until they realised that Ghost Museum Melaka was located opposite it.
As avid lovers of horror films, the couple decided that was the way to go for the business. “The idea came up and we just went along with it.”
They were getting bored of dining at cafes with the “same decor and food”. So they figured opening a business that’s out of the box would be a safe bet.
With a capital of more than RM100,000, the couple began work on creating Bunian The Haunted Cafe, a horror-themed restaurant. The space was renovated, equipment was purchased, and the kitchen was redesigned.
All that was left to do was adding the finishing touches (horror props) to tie it all together.
The place features employees dressed as characters from local folklores, such as pontianak and pocong. The candles, red lights, and eerie background music create an unsettling ambience.
It’s the perfect vibe that the brand aims for.
Growing an appetite for horror
The founders have been in the F&B industry for as long as they can remember. Individually, they have years of experience, but only started running a business full-time as a couple in 2015.
While you might assume the business only focuses on the horror vibes, Bunian The Haunted Cafe is still a cafe at the end of the day. The menu mainly consists of Western dishes, with a few items that have scary elements.
The mystery, however, is that you won’t know what you’re getting until it arrives. “But don’t worry, we guarantee it is worth it,” Rohzairee assured.
It seems that it isn’t just living customers that the cafe is attracting though, if the following event is to be believed.
During an interview with Melaka Hari Ini, Rohzairee mentioned that his employee once encountered a room full of “customers”, despite the place having closed down for the night.
“The restaurant closes at 11.30PM. On the day of the incident, an employee returned to the store to pick up a leftover item. When they looked through the window, they saw ‘many people’ dining there. So the employee changed their mind and turned back,” Rohzairee shared.
Shortly afterwards, the employee was struck with a fever for three days straight.
Coincidence? Who knows.
But one thing’s for sure though, Bunian The Haunted Cafe is not for the faint of heart.
On the “haunt” for consistent virality
At the time of writing, Bunian The Haunted Cafe’s TikTok account had amassed 91.3K followers since it first started in mid-November last year.
That’s quite a big achievement for a new brand that’s only been in the scene for four months.
According to the founders, they took the popular advice of staying consistent on social media. From posting content to engaging with others, the goal was to let people know that they existed and were active.
The couple believe that virality is like a “compulsory” component in today’s marketing field. While this may not work for every business, it all depends on who your viewers are. If they’re the right crowd then you’re more likely to see customer growth.
That said, you might notice that the few Google reviews that Bunian The Haunted Cafe has include criticisms. Some target its price point, while others mention its food quality.
So we had to ask the founders for their response to these claims.
“We are still learning and the staff are still new. Furthermore, after Bunian The Haunted Cafe got viral, things became a bit chaotic. But we are improving and seeing less negative feedback,” they shared.
“Feedback is really good for us to know where our mistakes are. And from there, we learn.”
The brand tries its best to reach its customer’s expectations, but it’s still a learning process. To keep people coming back, Bunian The Haunted Cafe switches up its performances from time to time.
“So that those repeating customers get different experiences every time they come,” they shared.
Planning to become a regular haunt
The brand recently moved from Kampung Hulu to Jalan Kubu, which is just around the corner from each other. So instead of only having eight tables, they can now serve 25 tables at a time.
In the long run, the couple aims for Bunian The Haunted Cafe to be an inspiration in the F&B industry. “People do not just come to eat, but to eat with entertainment,” they stated.
As such, they anticipate more haunted cafes and restaurants to pop up in the coming years, so they’re working on proving themselves to the masses. They also hope to enter the tourism market someday and make the brand a must-visit destination.
Though opening up in new locations is in the pipelines, they’ll be focusing on just the one branch for now. “So that we can give the best of the best to our customers,” Rohzairee and Aqilah concluded.
- Learn more about Bunian The Haunted Cafe here.
- Read other articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.
Featured Image Credit: Bunian The Haunted Cafe