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If there’s one thing that keeps smaller businesses afloat, it’s the sense of community spirit it nurtures. 

It’s not as common nowadays with many newer F&B establishments popping up every other day, each selling similar products and services.

However, much like how Breakfast Room in Shah Alam has drummed up solid community support, so too has #FIVE in Bukit Damansara. But for completely different reasons.

Instead of being known mainly for its food, #FIVE is better recognised as a community hub for cyclists that includes group rides and tours around the city.

Fun fact: The founders named the cafe as #FIVE in reference to rule number five in cycling, which stands for pushing the body beyond our perceived limits.

Source: Cyclist
Image Credit: #FIVE

Not letting a little hiccup stop them

Remember when the pandemic hit and businesses were scrambling to sustain themselves? 

That’s what Gertjan and Tricia faced too with their South American-inspired grill house called Char Line. Located in Bukit Damansara, the couple was finding ways to keep the dinner restaurant (open from 5PM onwards) and the team together. 

The #FIVE team / Image Credit: #FIVE

So they took a page from the playbooks of many entrepreneurs and diversified the business. For them, this meant opening the space earlier in the day as a breakfast spot where you could get coffee and takeaway-friendly brunch food. 

For example, you can find staples like Classic Shakshuka (RM26), Avocado & Egg toast (RM27), Nasi Lemak Wrap (RM32), and even a Steak Sandwich (RM45).

Image Credit: #FIVE

Coincidentally, many people in their area began cycling and running more often too. This made Char Line a regular gathering place for these groups as #FIVE’s opening hours suited them nicely.

As more and more runners and cyclists made this their “home”, Gertjan and Tricia decided to create #FIVE as a separate brand just to cater to them.

Building up two communities in one space

Essentially, the couple is housing two brands under one roof. 

Char Line’s Grilled Bone Marrow and Grilled Whole Squid (RM60) / Image Credit: Char Line

Operating as it usually did, Char Line opens at 5PM up till 11PM. As a wood-fired grill house, you can expect all its food offerings (including sauces) to have touched the grill in some way.

Those looking to try their specials could opt for its Grilled Bone Marrow (RM88). This is a dish that Gertjan said previously helped them win a cooking battle on Astro. Other than that, there is also a range of vegetarian choices such as Grilled Cauliflower (RM37) and Grilled Pumpkin (RM36).

Image Credit: Char Line

However, between 7:30AM to 4:30PM, the space acts as #FIVE—a friendly neighbourhood cafe with its own community. 

Gertjan explained that their customers usually gather at #FIVE either before or after their workouts. This includes the weekend cycling groups that the brand organises every Saturday at 7:30AM. 

It’s called the #RideWithFIVE group and currently has over 180 members. 

A chain reaction for something bigger

The idea for this was started by their friend Bastiaan, who is a fellow Dutchman and “fanatic cyclist” as Gertjan puts it.

Image Credit: #FIVE

Anyone is welcome to join for free through the brand’s group on Strava and they keep in touch through WhatsApp. The cycling route changes from time to time, though the founder shared there are a few ones they ride regularly:

  • Genting Sempah
  • Hulu Langat
  • Hulu Yam
  • Guthrie Corridor Expressway (GCE), a highway that connects Shah Alam to Rawang

However, it’s not limited to just activities hosted by #FIVE itself. The couple emphasised that cycling and group rides are a community-driven initiative, whereby anyone can post a ride or route option in the WhatsApp group.

Image Credit: #FIVE

The community isn’t limited just to those living in Malaysia either.

After receiving multiple requests from travellers, the brand recently added bicycle rentals as part of their service. This complements their guided cycling tours, which helps tourists build a different perception of the country.

“Cycling through areas such as Gombak or Hulu Langat and then climbing the hills around it gives a completely different experience to your average holiday trip in Malaysia,” the couple explained. “They get to see the areas around KL in a way they normally wouldn’t be able to.”

Image Credit: #FIVE

Riding in tandem with the demand

All that said, Gertjan and Tricia acknowledge that Malaysia isn’t the most cycling-friendly country.

Compared to other nations, we lack cycling lanes on most roads. Our people are also not very used to cyclists on the road.

In that light, #FIVE gives a short safety briefing to all their cycling customers and reminds them to keep an eye on road conditions.

Image Credit: #FIVE

The bicycle rental and cycling tours are open daily, with the couple suggesting to make reservations at least two days in advance. 

Once you’re back from tours, you could opt to have a bike wash for RM10 per bicycle. This is a collaboration between #FIVE and the car wash behind its cafe. “When we first started with this, we watched a GCN (Global Cycling Network) bike washing video together with their team and got started from there,” Gertjan recalled.

In a way, you could say it’s another form of community spirit.

“Pedaling” the business up a notch

Thus far, the reception for #FIVE has been steadily increasing in popularity, so much so that they’re thinking of expanding it further.

Image Credit: VeloVelo / Soluxe Protein

Along with that is the plan to grow it into a lifestyle brand. So eventually, customers can purchase cycling attire, protein bars, and the like, on top of its existing services.

Some brands they’ve partnered with previously include VeloVelo and Atlas Collectif (who are both sportswear brands), and Soluxe Protein (who produces plant-based nutritional supplements). 

Elaborating on this, the couple stated that the cafe is core to the brand as a gathering place and they’d like to keep it that way. Therefore, the lifestyle brand will probably take on its own space in the future.

Image Credit: #FIVE

At the moment, #FIVE remains a passion project for Gertjan and Tricia. But their goal is to grow the active lifestyle and community aspect of the business.

“We really want to create a place where cyclists from all over the world come together to enjoy cycling around Malaysia, as it’s really one of the best ways to explore the beauty of Malaysia,” they reaffirmed.

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

Featured Image Credit: #FIVE

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

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