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On my way to Siti Khadijah Market in Kota Bharu earlier this year, an interesting-looking cafe on the roadside caught my eye.

Named To The Moon, it looked reminiscent of a spot you’d find in Penang or KL. While cafe culture in Kelantan has been growing over the years, it’s still rare to find “aesthetic” or “Instagrammable” locations in the area.

Although I wasn’t able to dine there at the time, it piqued my interest enough that I reached out to learn more.  

I managed to get in touch with CK, the Kelantanese founder of To The Moon.

Image Credit: To The Moon

Graduating from Taylor’s with a degree in business administration, CK had previously jumped on the bubble tea trend and even took on a bubble tea franchise.

However, he ended up having to close down the business due to a lack of demand and high rental in Kelantan.

“Actually business was great for the first four months, and then boom—MCO for almost two years,” he explained.

But it was also the pandemic that allowed him to cook up something new.

Image Credit: To The Moon

With people stuck at home, CK knew that once restrictions were lifted, people would definitely want to go out and dine with friends and family. Thus, he knew it was an opportune time to get into the market.

“Somehow, deep down my heart, I always thought why there wasn’t a modern restaurant/cafe in heritage buildings like in Penang, Ipoh, or KL,” he said. “People of Kelantan deserve one.”

For those who are into crypto, you might understand the reference made by the cafe’s name. Essentially, To The Moon is a popular saying in the crypto community, referring to a crypto witnessing a major upward market trend.

Finding the saying trendy, catchy, easy to pronounce, and somehow romantic, CK made his pick and launched To The Moon in 2021.

Cooking up fusion food

At To The Moon, the cuisine is a mix of different things, from Japanese fare to Western flavours, while incorporating Thai and Malay dishes too. CK shared that the reason for going the fusion route is because he felt like just regular Western cafe food would be too boring.  

Image Credit: To The Moon

But CK doesn’t think that they jump on trends just for the sake of it. Rather, the team puts thought into whether people will or not like the food, and whether the dish will stand the test of time.

Take for example their panna cotta, which he felt was perfect as it’s not just cute but is also delicious.

Currently, To the Moon comprises a nine-person team. The chefs are all local to KB, and many have worked at famous hotels and restaurants in KL, CK shared.

Image Credit: To The Moon

A quirky interior

Something notable about the cafe is its quirky interior design that blends nostalgic, traditional elements with an industrial and modern vibe. There are plenty of mirrors around too, for that perfect OOTD shot.

And you won’t want to miss the jokes hidden about. There’s a trash can labelled “Ex Aku” (my ex), next to stairs that read “Jatuh Cinta Bukan Tangga” (fall in love, not off the stairs).

CK proudly shared that he designed the space himself alongside his contractor, and did not hire any interior designers.

Image Credit: To The Moon

“To be honest, I think of myself as quite a creative person,” he said. “Plus, I had so much time during MCO to think about the design. I would sit at the shop for one or two hours just to brainstorm and imagine what it would look like.”

Explaining the humorous parts of his design, he said, “Life is too short, why not just laugh? I always want to see people laugh, and so I always think of funny ideas and put in in the cafe and our social media.”

True to this mindset, they’ve had a few viral videos, with one gaining over 2 million views on Instagram. CK said that this strategy has been critical in boosting their business.

A growing cafe scene

Although cafe culture in Kota Bharu has been growing over the years, CK believes To The Moon’s concept is new to the state.

Image Credit: To The Moon

“First, it is in a heritage building—as mentioned, I wanted something of a mixture between modern and heritage,” he said. “Plus there is already a cafe call Kedai Kopi Lama located on the same row, and their business is quite well.”

On top of that, the location is by the main road, so drivers and passengers will notice them as they’re close to the traffic light too.

And he would be correct, because that’s exactly how I first came across his business.

Going forward, CK foresees the cafe market to become more competitive. To maintain their position, he believes the best thing is to just continue improving To The Moon’s food, customer services, and creativity.

Image Credit: To The Moon

“Only the creative ones will live when it’s getting more competitive,” he quipped.  

It is through creativity that CK believes To The Moon can now be considered “well known” in the state. But now, the next step is to attract audiences from other states.

But for now, CK’s sights are set on something nearer. The founder revealed that the team is renovating the second floor of their cafe in order to turn it into a bakery serving pastries and cakes.

This will be the first step in CK’s ambitions to expand To The Moon to not just other states but even other countries, fulfilling his dream to serve up Malaysian fusion food worldwide.

  • Learn more about To The Moon here.
  • Read other articles we’ve written about F&B businesses here.

Featured Image Credit: To The Moon

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

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