The founders of Magicians, a cafe in the serviced residence, Tribeca located in KL’s Golden Triangle, said goodbye to its supporters when the restaurant ends its lease on July 31, 2021. They are now looking for interested parties to take over the magicians and continue his legacy.
“Wizards has had 4 wonderful years, and the brand, concept, people and products have come a long way,” they wrote in a facebook post revealing his gratitude to his followers who have stood by his side in the middle of a year and a half of the pandemic.
Keeping their heads above the water
Like hotels, Tribeca was badly hit as it lost most of its short-stay residents, which consisted of tourists and business travelers.
Wizards director Lin Lee told us that before COVID-19, there used to be a healthy mix of local and foreign tourists visiting the cafe. There were even times when buses full of tourists entered the cafeteria for coffee and lunch.
“With every MCO, we keep trying to keep our heads above water. But being in the heart of KL and now with 1.5 years of limited or no dinners, and with the disappearance of [residents] In the service department, tourists and corporate premises that were our main sources of income, we have to finish it, ”he added.
Since the first MCO, Wizards told the Vulcan Post that they saw a 90% decrease in sales, as they had not yet launched an online delivery presence. This underwent a severe setback of RM100K only in the first 2 months of the 2020 MCO.
Over the course of the year, 10-15% of sales would slowly rise again as the business went through change and jumped to more delivery platforms.
But with delivery partners taking a 30% cut in commissions, the cafe fought hard to attract homebound customers by launching promotions, giveaways, and special menu items from baths to pasta.
A united team
The Wizards team persisted and held their heads high, initially ignoring the MCO restrictions as a temporary hurdle they had to overcome. They brainstormed, got used to cooking and serving with hot masks, and took care of things as they arrived.
Over the past year, they stuck together through tough times involving a member of the team who contracted the virus, stubborn clients who refuse to wear masks, and dramatic pay cuts.
The Wizards marketing team even started their own series of online talk shows to provide the public with information on how the food and beverage industry was struggling during the pandemic. Co-founder Shaun also ran his “Wizards home delivery” service that saw him and other staff personally deliver food in the Klang Valley.
These initiatives worked to some extent, but with other restaurants and home-based businesses also hopping onto food delivery platforms, it became too difficult to compete in such an oversaturated space.
“Then came RMCO, MCO 2.0, MCO 3.0… It was relentless! Our cash reserves were running low, there was a need for pay cuts across the board, and soon a year had passed of sitting staring at empty tables and chairs and waiting for the GrabFood machine to hum, ”Lin Lee recounted, defeated.
As staff members were kept abreast of company accounts and informed of the losses that Wizards was making on a daily basis, they were presented with 2 options:
- Letting go of some team members, or
- Restructure the business so that everyone receives the same salary in a profit sharing model.
When voting, 90% voted for equal pay so that everyone could stay; the team did not want to leave a single person behind.
“This moved us immensely as it really described how strong the team spirit was – a high-ranking chef was prepared to take home the same amount of salary as a manager to keep the team together during this difficult time,” he explained. Lin Lee.
They saw the end come
When MCO 2.0 came along, the possibility of a shutdown was already apparent to the 5 Wizards co-founders, Ryan, Jason, Lin Lee, Shaun, Kheong. Finally, OLS 3.0 was the turning point.
Even after injecting additional funds from their personal savings, its founders have exhausted their resources and cannot bear to fight another blockade with no light in sight at the end of the tunnel.
Additionally, the opportunity to close finally presented itself as the cafe was already nearing the end of its lease in Tribeca. It was not an easy decision for the co-founders to make, as Wizards was a reliable and profitable business under normal circumstances.
“At F&B, what motivates us is talking to our customers, watching them enjoy their food and appreciating the service and atmosphere; with that taken away, the drive and motivation to keep going day by day were deeply affected.”
As cheesy as it is, Lin Lee shared that the biggest loss suffered by her vibrant and exciting team was her spirit.
Refocus on personal matters
Leaving Wizards for good, Ryan, Kheong, and Lin Lee, who became new parents over the past year, will be spending more time with their respective families.
In addition, after Wizards, the co-founders will also pay more attention to the growth of their other F&B brands. Namely, The red beanbag, headed by Kheong, and Yellow cobblestone road, headed by Jason. Shaun will embark on a new project called ONŌ that serves specialty coffee matcha.
In terms of whether they will ever return to the Wizards if it continues to thrive under a new administration, Lin Lee said, “You never know, but for now, we can safely say this is one last goodbye.”
- You can learn more about magicians. here, and you can contact them through 0122771298 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- You can read about other Malaysian startups that we have written about here.
Featured Image Credit: Wizards at Tribeca