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Nestled in the heart of Shah Alam lies a sanctuary where time seems to slow down, and the aroma of freshly brewed coffee mingles with the earthy scent of plants. 

That is Gardenage, a unique fusion of a plant nursery and a cosy cafe, where lush greenery meets culinary delights.

The story behind Gardenage is as charming as its ambience. A father, a son, and a friend, each with their own expertise and passion, came together during the unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic to breathe life into a new venture. 

From seed to sip

Kaiser and his son Miguel founded Gardenage in early 2020, when Kaiser’s events business, The Craftman, took a hit due to the pandemic. Later on, when the business expanded into a cafe, Chua joined forces with them. 

“Chua and I graduated from the same culinary school. He managed to intern at a fine-dining restaurant, Sage, and continued working there for a few years before leaving to help his family’s dai chao restaurant known as Restaurant Sin Chua Kee,” Miguel told Vulcan Post.

“I, on the other hand, interned at Gardens Hotel for six months before transitioning to work for my dad’s events company.”

The seed of the idea sprouted from Kaiser’s love for gardening. 

Inspired by the concept of indoor plant nurseries, they envisioned a space where people could not only shop for green companions but also unwind with a cup of coffee and a croissant amidst a verdant oasis. Thus, Gardenage was born.

What started as a modest garden centre with a coffee corner soon blossomed into a full-fledged cafe, driven by the growing demand for more substantial fare. 

“We never expected the demand for our food to be so strong, because of the demand we had to sacrifice space for plants to become sitting areas for customers,” he said.

Miguel and Chua, recognising the opportunity, took the reins of the cafe, while Kaiser continued to nurture the plants and curate the greenery that adorned the space.

Image Credit: Gardenage

Growing with time 

Like a plant that has to persevere through unpredictable environments to face the sun, Gardenage’s journey wasn’t without its challenges. 

But the trio navigated the hurdles with resilience and determination. 

“Lacking confidence and expertise in kitchen operations, we opted for a trial run by opening a stall in a kopitiam at Sri Petaling.”

“After a few more months, we started to get the hang of how things worked and then decided to rent the unit next to Gardenage for the kitchen space,” he shared.

The cafe’s menu, a collaborative effort between Miguel and Chua, boasts an array of culinary delights that have quickly become favourites among patrons. 

Image Credit: Gardenage

From the tantalising chicken quarters to the comforting mushroom and leek soup, each dish is served with a dash of innovation.

Their hands-on approach, with just seven team members including the founders, reflects their commitment to every aspect of Gardenage’s operation.

More than the F&B side of things though, Gardenage also offers a range of services tailored to plant enthusiasts, including repotting services and organic pest repellents, alongside small-scale landscaping projects and consultations. 

Kaiser remains the driving force behind these initiatives, showcasing a passion that knows no bounds.

Image Credit: Gardenage

As Miguel put it, “Gardening takes time, it ages like wine.” 

And indeed, with the team’s care, Gardenage has aged gracefully, evolving from a humble idea into a beloved community hub where patrons can indulge their senses and nurture their green thumbs.

Brewing a blend of passion and success 

In a saturated cafe scene, Gardenage stands out by offering a unique blend of experiences—a testament to the founders’ dedication to innovation and authenticity. 

“We are trying to sell things no one else is selling, and even if it’s the same thing, we put our own twist to it,” said Miguel.

While the cafe side proves more profitable, the plant nursery remains a labour of love, requiring meticulous care and attention.

Looking ahead, the trio has no immediate plans for expansion, preferring to focus on maintaining the integrity of Gardenage while exploring other business opportunities. 

As the sun sets on another day at Gardenage, casting a warm glow over the foliage and bustling cafe, one thing is clear—this is more than just a business venture. It’s a labour of love and a haven for all who seek solace in the embrace of nature’s beauty and culinary delights.

  • You can learn more about their business here.
  • Read other articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Gardenage

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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.)