Tiny Garden Cafe Melawati

Interview: Shirley Low, Owner Tiny Garden Cafe, Wangsa Melawati

What do you do and how did you get into the industry?
We are currently operating a small weekend-cafe and providing a bed-and-breakfast service. I have always loved cooking and gardening, and my husband is very good in carpenter jobs. Since my children have grown up and moved out, they encouraged us to start a small business to share our skills and keep ourselves busy. Therefore we started renting out the empty rooms to tourists and travellers. Later on, we started the weekend-cafe to share our garden and good food to more people. We hope that more people will be able to find a relaxing place to have an enjoyable weekend with their friends and family.

Share with us an interesting story from behind the scenes.
We got a very good response during the early stages of the business. People like the idea of dining in a small garden. Many people, however, were not informed that we open only during weekends, therefore they showed up on weekdays to ask for a table. Unfortunately, we had to turn them down. Many times they just walked into our house when the gate was unlocked, and we thought someone was breaking into the house.

What’s the best/ worst part of your job?
We are the happiest when we see our guests enjoy our environment, especially when they are just quietly sitting at the garden, reading the book, listening to the bird chirps, or simply just playing with the dogs. And of course, a cook always love when people appreciate their cookings. Some guests and customers became our friends, they would visit us not just for the food and environment, and also to meet us. Sometimes they even surprise us with hearty gifts and their lovely thoughts. Nothing is better than such beautiful people.

The worst part of the job is seeing food going to waste. Sometimes the customers order too much, or if some of them do not like salads we will have to throw away those leftovers while thinking of how somewhere on the other side of the world people are starving without food. We really hope our customers would appreciate food more and always remember how lucky we are. We also appreciate patient customers and guests.

What’s your favourite menu item in the Tiny Garden?
I would say it’s our signature Confee combining coffee and dessert – it’s always the bestseller! What’s better? You can eat the cup! It’s totally waste-free!

What’s one of the craziest things you’ve seen behind the scenes?
When we just started the business, we didn’t expect that the response could be so overwhelming. Since there were only three of us operating the cafe and limited space, we couldn’t take so many customers. It was really crazy to see so many people waiting in front of our house waiting for a seat.

The perfect day off would be…
Just stay home and relax, to have nothing to do at all!

A day in the life of a cafe owner is…
BUSY! Although the cafe is only open during the weekends, we still need to work most of the time. We spend a lot of time managing the garden and the house to keep it good and presentable. Sometimes we hang out with our in-house guests, bring them out for food hunting and such, like a family outing.

What do you do for fun?
I love to food hunt with my husband and daughter – going around Malaysia to try out nice food that others recommended.

What’s something you’d like guests to know about Tiny Garden?
We would like our guests to be honest with us about their opinion. Tell us face-to-face when they are not happy with their experience with us so we can apologize immediately and improve ourselves.

What’s your view on the food scene in Kuala Lumpur?
KL is really a foodie heaven. You can find whatever you want to eat from every corner of the world in this city. I think you will never get bored of the food here, at least I have not!

What’s in store for you in the upcoming months?
Sorry, we can’t really tell since the menu changes every week according to the “mood” of the cook and the freshest available ingredients in the market. 🙂

Take a look inside Tiny Garden cafe here and find out how to get yourself a table.

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