This Malaysian chef started a duck café in Ipoh. No, not a café serving duck, but a café with ducks. Live ones.
Lucas, the founder of said duck café, used to work in a five-star hotel in Shanghai, but after the pandemic, he found himself back in Malaysia.
One day, as he was cleaning up his house, he found an egg incubator just lying around.
Apparently, call ducks had been trendy in China circa 2019, and one of Lucas’ friends was in the scene, so he ended up purchasing the incubator. Being stuck at home during the pandemic, he decided to give incubating duck eggs a go.
“I experienced countless failures from hatching eggs to ducklings,” he revealed. “It took about RM40,000 to successfully hatch the first call duck.”
That was the start of his hobby and eventual business.
“The reason why I founded Callduck Coffee Shop was because I want to give my friends who buy ducks from me a place to gather, introduce more people to call ducks, and also drive my call duck business,” he explained.
With that, Callduck Coffee Shop got its start.
A place for duck lovers
While Lucas himself has over 50 ducks, the café itself houses four ducks.
There’s no admission fee to enter the café, and staff members can teach patrons how to take photos, such as by posing the ducks in their hands.
As for the café menu, Lucas said that it’s kept quite simple. Some items include croissants, French fries, chicken nuggets, and duck-shaped cakes.
“The cakes are all made by a good friend, who is a pastry chef, and we developed the shapes and flavours together,” Lucas explained.
In terms of the hygiene, to acquire a certificate to operate, Lucas shared that pets and meals should be kept separated. For Callduck Coffee Shop, the café area is on a separate floor from the pet zone.
However, Lucas wanted to clarify, “The duck itself does not stink, because this kind of duck is very clean and basically bathes every day. There’s no bad body odour.”
Apparently, Lucas himself is a bit of a germophobe, as well as a very detail-oriented person. Both him and his wife come from an F&B background, which contributes to that.
Designing the store, he paid great attention to things such as the café lighting, background music, and even the store’s temperature. The idea was to go for a simple and minimalistic style, and above all, it should be “unpretentious”.
“The theme of the restaurant and the fragrance of the café are our first considerations, especially in the toilet,” he said. “I pay attention to the hand sanitiser and candles—details that are not very noticeable to many people, but are often the most impressive.”
These days, Lucas is actually stationed in Doha, working as the executive chef in a Michelin-starred restaurant, Kai’s Songbird.
Meanwhile, his trusty team back in Ipoh has been tending to the café, which Lucas shared has welcomed more than 2,000 patrons.
“The place is small, and I didn’t expect it to become popular at first,” he shared. “It’s just a place where office workers can have a comfortable environment where they can drink coffee while working, like Starbucks.”
Except there are ducks, of course.
Other than digital nomads, Lucas also intended Callduck to be a spot for families, tourists, animal lovers, young people, and couples from all over the country and abroad. While not halal-certified, Lucas said that the café does not sell alcoholic beverages or pork.
The challenge nowadays, he shared, is curating a menu of food and drinks that suit the palates of Malaysians while fitting the theme of the café.
For those who are already planning their next trip to Ipoh after reading this, we get it. As for whether Lucas plans on expanding the café…
“I don’t have any plans yet,” he said. “But we’ll see, maybe it will be opened in Kuala Lumpur.”
- Learn more about Callduck Coffee Shop here.
- Read other articles we’ve written about F&B businesses here.
Featured Image Credit: Callduck Coffee Shop