Think of a co-working space but for budding restaurants and cafes — that’s what Cookhouse is all about.

It’s not often you come by an original idea these days. Nearly everything has been inspired by something, but it takes a true visionary to think of a solution to an oncoming issue. This was exactly what Huen Su San did when she came up with Cookhouse.

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Huen Su San is the founder of Cookhouse and is a longtime player in Malaysia’s F&B industry.

In case it escaped your radar, Cookhouse is one of KL’s latest innovations: a cloud kitchen. Located along Jalan PJS3 in Petaling Jaya, this 24/7-access, 10,000 sqft cloud kitchen has five private kitchen studios, a shared baking production, Asian & Western kitchen, prep kitchen, walk-in freezers and chillers, dry storage, packing facility, loading area and food delivery pick up stations for easy distribution.

Similar to how a traditional office setup is now passé with more startup companies opting to work from a co-working space instead, a cloud kitchen acts as a shared central kitchen for budding food businesses that focus on deliveries, rather than a brick-and-mortar restaurant. During the Movement Control Order (MCO), it became even more prevalent when we weren’t able to dine outside.

“The growth of the food delivery market is one that is difficult to ignore in recent times, even before the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Huen. “Cloud kitchens are simply a more efficient way for food businesses and cost and operations wise to cater to the food delivery market segment.”

The idea for Cookhouse, Huen said, came to her about a year ago when she was in the midst of setting up two central kitchens and running eight outlets for her own F&B business (Glasshouse at Seputeh and Beyond Korea Dining Group). Looking at the success of the co-working office industry, it dawned on her that there were some real cost-saving and advantages if a similar concept was applied to food entrepreneurs with an option to lease and rent a kitchen space including equipment. Purchasing them upfront, as most in the industry would know, costs big bucks.

“Truth be told, until today, the only cloud kitchen I have ever set foot in is my own. I definitely read and researched a lot on cloud kitchens and commissary kitchens abroad…but with building Cookhouse, I looked a lot internally into my own business operations and the journey scaling it as a food entrepreneur as well as someone operating from the local F&B business scene,” she explained. “Cookhouse was conceptualised from these personal perspectives and needs of a F&B business in Malaysia.”

Read on below as we picked Huen’s brain on why Cookhouse just works.

Why have a cloud kitchen at all — what are the benefits of it?

The main benefits are definitely the low startup cost, lower operational costs, which will lead to higher margins and accelerated return on investment. Besides the obvious monetary savings, moving into a cloud kitchen has also speed-to-market benefits as well as advantages from a logistic and connectivity point of view. On top of that, there is also no need to worry about renovations and equipment maintenance. Food businesses can move in and start selling almost immediately.

You have most, if not all kitchen equipment you need readily available at your disposal.

 

Who, in your opinion, will benefit most from a cloud kitchen?

Although cloud kitchens cater to both established F&B players as well as startups, I would have to say the latter will benefit the most. They will now have much lower barriers to entry into the F&B industry, huge savings from renovation cost and equipment as well as the flexibility to tackle the delivery market from an angle that was not available before.

What is the biggest perk for someone who utilises Cookhouse, in your opinion?

Cookhouse stands out from other cloud kitchens due to the fact that it’s a community-centric ecosystem. Besides the infrastructure and equipment, we put in a lot of effort to build up the community and networks supporting the food businesses. A member of the Cookhouse community would benefit from these networks and working alongside a community made up of passionate food entrepreneurs from all walks of life.

How will you address halal issues (or any dietary restrictions stemming from religion) when it comes to using a cloud kitchen?

Our current operational cloud kitchen is for pork-free and alcohol-free food production only. All users of Cookhouse are made aware of this before they join. We will have other locations coming up which will be designated for non-halal cooking.

Do you plan to set up more cloud kitchens in the Klang Valley, or even to other states in Malaysia?

Yes, we are planning for 10 locations in Klang Valley by the end of this year. In the future, we will definitely be looking to expand out of Klang Valley and into the other states when the time is right.

PohNee Chin
Editor, Kuala Lumpur
Poh Nee is the editor and writes about travel and drinks. When she's not living out her holiday dreams via Google Earth and sipping on an Old Fashioned down at the local bars, you can find her snug at home bingeing on Netflix and mystery fiction.