In this article

A new café has opened in Damansara Jaya’s Atria Shopping Gallery, and it’s not just any café. Rather, it’s a book café.

Named One Afternoon, it was founded by Ben Lim, an electrical & electronic engineering graduate.  

Before starting the cafe, Ben also founded MyTaman and Pegasuswork, two apps used in 400 or so property development projects in Malaysia.

According to Ben, MyTaman, which has visitor management and panic button assist features, are used by most tamans in Damansara Jaya, with approximately 5,000 users.

Image Credit: One Afternoon

Utilising income generated from MyTaman, One Afternoon was launched on January 1, 2024 with a capex of around RM120K.

When asked about the cafe’s name, Ben shared, “I was reading a book about Taiping and its surrounding township Kuala Sepetang (Port Weld) where my old man was a fisherman.”

Then, it occurred to him that the Sepetang in Kuala Sepetang meant one afternoon.

Ben mused, “I felt it was romantic, and being a fisherman’s son, the name has its sentimental value for me.”

But why a book cafe?

If you’re a parent in PJ like Ben is, you’ll know that weekends are often spent in shopping malls.

However, Ben has noticed that in the area and its many shopping malls, there aren’t any with a book café concept where parents can chill out with a drink while their kids read books (instead of being chained to their mobile phones).  

The closest, he argued, would be Eslite Spectrum in The Starhill.

“One Afternoon is to provide the solution to that problem,” the founder said.

Image Credit: Vulcan Post

Plus, both Ben and his daughter are avid readers, so much so that they’ve been running out of space at home to keep their books. One Afternoon thus aligns with their interest (as well as helps solve their space issue).

“Although 1/3 of the books are from my own collection, I am blessed to be staying in the Damansara Jaya area,” he said. “When I told [the community] I have a book cafe in the WhatsApp group, the donated books started sort of flying in.”

Ben shared that he was quite surprised by the range of titles One Afternoon has collected thus far, but it makes sense because they’ve been donated by people from all walks of life.

Some titles he highlighted include 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, and Surely You’re Joking, Mr Feynman! by Richard Feynman.

Image Credit: One Afternoon

Aside from its array of books, One Afternoon serves up artisan coffee, pastries, as well as cookies and ice cream made by Ben’s wife.

Apparently, their signature Cempedak ice cream has already attracted some return customers.

One core offering at One Afternoon is their coffee that comes bundled with a cookie or ice cream.

“From my own experience, when we parents go to any café, we have a limited choice of what to order for our noisy kids,” Ben pointed out. “Hence the bundled strategy, which will buy a few minutes of peaceful reading time.”

A library system

More than just a café where you can read books, One Afternoon actually functions similarly to a library. That means readers can bring borrowed books home.

The current system is rather manual, involving a physical book rental where details like the book title, date, borrower’s name, and contact are penned down.

Going forward, Ben does have plans to digitalise the process, which should be easy given his background.

Image Credit: One Afternoon / Vulcan Post

Each book rental is RM5. To ensure borrowers return their books, there’s a one-time RM25 deposit. This deposit is not per book, but per person.

Borrowers are given two weeks, but their deposits wouldn’t be voided as long as the book is returned, even if it’s later than the deadline.

“So, as we do not void the deposit and do not have penalties if the customer borrows for more than two weeks, our offer of RM5 book rental per book should still be attractive to book readers,” Ben explained.

For the neighbourhood

Ben believes that the Atria Shopping Gallery location is ideal for their target audience of families with children.

Located on the second floor, it’s just a stone’s throw away from a piano centre, a pet shop, a jungle gym, and even a preschool. This, Ben believes, gives One Afternoon the foot traffic they need.

Image Credit: Vulcan Post

“Currently, we want to be very focused in Atria only, but maybe with additional space where we can turn into coworking or lifestyle concepts,” Ben added.

The founder believes that keeping to a single location but possibly having a bigger space will keep overhead low.

Ben also engages an online-to-offline strategy, making use of the MyTaman app’s news channel to reach out to prospective customers. The founder understands that social media marketing through TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook will be key too.

Aside from that, they’re relying on word of mouth for return customers. One Afternoon will also have monthly events, ranging from blockchain events to chess clinics.

Designed for Damansara Jaya residents by a resident himself, the One Afternoon book café hopes to be a place where community members can visit, not just one, but any afternoon.

  • Learn more about One Afternoon here.
  • Read other articles we’ve written about F&B businesses here.

Featured Image Credit: One Afternoon

Subscribe to our newsletter

Stay updated with Vulcan Post weekly curated news and updates.


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

© 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.)