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As the final MCO lifted in Malaysia in 2021, Malaysians were hungry for new experiences—a hunger that Tiffin at the Yard catered to.

Opened in November 2021, Tiffin at the Yard was described as a culinary playground that aimed to feature the country’s top chefs, restaurateurs, as well as up-and-coming talents. With a cool, industrial ambiance, it quickly became a destination for foodies and those looking for something new.

Tiffin, the company behind the space, already had a lot of experience in the F&B realm, especially when it comes to providing unique culinary experiences. The company had organised many pop-ups, but wanted to try a more permanent setup, which manifested as Tiffin at the Yard.

Image Credit: Tiffin

The concept had been a hit, welcoming many diners as well as entrepreneurs to its Sentul Depot location. In a way, it was like a sandbox for food establishments. For example, Leen’s Middle East Kitchen got its start there, and now has grown to two independent outlets.

Less than two and a half years in, however, Tiffin at the Yard has come to an end. The announcement came through a simple farewell post on made on January 25. There was no countdown, no leadup, and not much fanfare.

With not much information to go on, we reached out to Adrian Yap, the founder of Tiffin, to learn more about the closure, what caused it, and what’s next for the company.

A good two-year run

Over a call with Vulcan Post, Adrian revealed that the closure wasn’t unexpected. This is as their tenancy at Sentul Depot was coming to an end, he explained.

He added that vendors were told at least a month in advance and thus had time to look for opportunities elsewhere.

“What happened was, we already stopped renewing tenancies for most our tenants, so basically, all of them were already due to end in January itself,” he explained.

Checking in with past vendors such as Fratelli’s and The Bao Guys, they validated this, sharing that they were informed in advance.

The Bao Guys’ co-founder Lucas Isaac Seneviratne told Vulcan Post that they felt the notice (which was about a month and a half) was admittedly on the shorter side, but were very appreciative of Adrian and his team for helping vendors come up with solutions.

Image Credit: The Bao Guys

“Kudos to them that they had everything planned,” he said, sharing that the Tiffin team immediately scheduled meetings with them to talk through everything.

Lucas also told us that he has noticed a significant drop in sales for them at Tiffin at the Yard in 2023, and that towards the end, their business model had shifted.

Instead of individual diners, they were relying on bigger clients, such as those organising brand activations at the location. In that sense, the Tiffin team has assisted vendors by supplying them those clients.

Looking back on the two years, Adrian shared that they’ve experienced the whole gamut of a business’s ups and downs, starting with the post-pandemic hype which then led to a more conservative market.

Leveraging their experience with Tiffin at the Yard, the team is ready to move on to something new.

New projects in the pipeline

So, to be clear, it’s definitely not the end for Tiffin. Far from it, in fact.

One of their most exciting upcoming projects is called Rasa Semua. Located in the Masjid India area, Semua House is an old mall that’s been given a new lease of life. Mainly a fashion textile mall, there’ll also be a food court, which will be Semua Rasa.

Image Credit: Semua House

Compared to Tiffin at the Yard, which was more of a destination venue, this new spot will cater more to the day-to-day lunch crowd.

“This place is a little more central, and we’ll be targeting more of the office crowd,” Adrian explained. As such, they hope to cater more value-driven meals that can be easily enjoyed within the lunch hour.  

Adrian clarified that Semua Rasa is not a response to Tiffin at the Yard, but rather something fresh and new.

From the Ramadhan season from March 18 to April 7, the mall will be hosting a Singgah Di Semua bazaar that will also function as a kind of soft launch leading up to the official opening of Semua House.

Adrian said Tiffin will be a part of this event. Lucas also shared that The Bao Guys will be a part of the Ramadhan event.

Aside from that, Adrian shared that the Tiffin team have many other projects lined up, including the return of their food and music event, Sunny Days Festival, in June this year.

Lessons learnt along the way

Reflecting on Tiffin at the Yard, Adrian shared that one of the biggest lessons learnt is how working with the right tenants will make a big difference.

How Tiffin at the Yard’s business model worked was through taking a percentage cut from the gross turnover, rather than just taking a flat rate from vendors.

Image Credit: Tiffin

This, coupled with the fact that businesses can save on renovation costs at Tiffin at the Yard, makes it easier for new entrepreneurs to kickstart their businesses.

However, it’s a double-edged sword because while driven entrepreneurs will put in the work to drum up their sales, some may not perform as well. The lower sales will ultimately affect Tiffin, too.

Having worked with many different people, Adrian is more equipped now than ever to find the right partners to work with.

Aside from partners, he also learnt a lot about consumer habits. “Don’t underestimate the palate of Malaysians.”

With Tiffin at the Yard, the idea had been to bring in global flavours, which Adrian had initially been worried about. However, he later learnt just how adventurous Malaysians are and how willing we are to try new things.    

Keeping that in mind, we can still expect to find some diverse flavours and, as Tiffin always aims to provide, a unique experience awaiting for us at Semua Rasa.

  • Learn more about Tiffin here.
  • Read other articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Adrian Yap / Tiffin

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© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)

Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)