KUALA LUMPUR: Goodbye Kitty.
The Hello Kitty Gourmet Cafe situated in Sunway Pyramid has closed its doors after two years of business.
While it can be said that the restaurant joins several other food joints that recently announced their departure from Malaysia, the closure does not come as a surprise to those familiar with its initial startup and operation.
Hello Kitty Gourmet Cafe, operated by H Kty Holdings Sdn Bhd, was among the businesses linked to the now defunct newsportal The Rakyat Post, according to a source familiar with both organisations.
The Rakyat Post closed down last year after letting go of some 70 staff members.
The website was said to have continued operating however its original staff members issued a statement clarifying they had nothing to do with the new operation and they were no longer attached to the newsportal.
Back to Hello Kitty, the restaurant courted what can be described as a funny publicity on its opening night in October 2015.
What should have been a limousine plastered with Hello Kitty decals hired to chauffeur its guest of honour Amber Chia to the event, ended up sending Indian superstar Rajinikanth to Melaka.
Photos were shared on social media of Rajinikanth inside a white Hello Kitty limousine, much to the amusement of netizens.
Meanwhile Chia later told The Star Online that she took a taxi from the KL International Airport (KLIA) to the cafe’s opening ceremony, after waiting for the limousine for some three hours.
Chia did not blame the Tamil Superstar for the fiasco, stating that she fully respected Rajinikanth.
There were conflicting accounts of what happened later on, with one saying the limousine driver was forced to send Rajinikanth to Melaka.
This was later refuted by the company that handled Rajinikanth’s visit who insisted they rented the limousine for RM2,500, as reported by the Malay Mail Online.
Perhaps it can be said that any publicity is good publicity for Hello Kitty. Despite the limousine fiasco, the opening ceremony went on somewhat smoothly that night.
In an article published by The Rakyat Post, the cafe was said to be targetting customers of a more mature age group, between 18 and 35.
Quoting the cafe’s Marketing Director Ann Robertson, she said the aim of the cafe was to showcase a new aspect of Hello Kitty that has not been prominently embraced before by her fans around the world.
The cafe, did attract a good crowd when it first opened its doors to the public, on Sept 26, which was about a month before its official opening.
According to a report by The Rakyat Post, the cafe drew hundreds within the first few hours.
As the days progressed, it would seem that some patrons were not happy with the cafe, judging by several complaints posted on the cafe’s official Facebook page.
One Carynne Foo said the waiting time was too long during Valentine’s Day.
“The cafe is not full but waited for more than half an hour for the main course. After serving the 1st main course, I waited half an hour then serve us the dessert (another main course is not served yet). The stuffed chicken served is tasteless. I could see that they are lack of staff and everything messed up on this important day and this really spoiled my Valentine,” she wrote.
Rina Chan also complained that the service at the cafe needed improvement.
Another Facebook user, Charlotte Loy commended the staff for being helpful and friendly but expressed her disappointment that during her visit at 10.45am, she was informed that the kitchen was not ready.
“Your cafe opening business hours is 10am to 12am,” she wrote, advising the cafe to change their operating hours to 11am or 12pm instead.
Facebook user Donna Cheah also complained about the opening hours.
“We arrived at 10am and was told that kitchen will only be opened from 10.30am. If this is the case why bother putting the signboard open from 10am?” she asked.
Ron Xun wrote, “Dear management, do look into your email for my suggestion to improve your supervisor’s customer service level! Don’t be mad at the waiter staff who offer their good service to ensure customers enjoy their dinner. Your cafe is expensive and the meal quality is so-so. It is good customer service that will bring people back to your cafe.”
Jenny Wong said she had a bad experience at the cafe, as she was there during lunch and alleged that half of the menu was out of stock.
“Even basic drinks like cappucino. Reason was they have run out of cocoa powder to draw the kitty face. Food took too long to be served and portion super little. One serving of pasta is even smaller than a fist. But I must their English-speaking staff (not many of them though) are friendly and provide good service. Thumbs up for your staff by the name Wasif,” Wong wrote.
To be fair, many customers also posted happy pictures of them enjoying themselves at the cafe.
Some expressed regret that the cafe was closing down in the comment section of their farewell post.
“So long farewell,” Hello Kitty Gourmet Cafe posted on June 27, “It’s been a wonderful journey! Thank you for the love and support, hope to see you all real soon!”
“No farewell, kitty is tough and must be strong to make the world peace. Hug, you have done your own best,” wrote Kaily Yap.
“Really noooo,” said Alayna Hsa.
Other Facebook users responded by saying the food was expensive.
“Very expensive food and small portion. Is sad for that,” said Nat Lewis.
“Service bad, food bad,” said Miki Lau.
“Probably it’s because consumers really couldn’t afford such expensive and extremely small portion food after one try,” said Suzanne Moon, to which another user Amber Rhane Parks responded by saying, “99.9% sure that’s why lol.”
With all said and done, the two-storey cafe situated close to the entrance of Sunway Pyramid is now no more. Whether their closure was due to tough economic times or simply lack of proper business planning, is not known for sure.
The company has not released an official statement on the closure, except for a short farewell post on Facebook. – MO