(Photo by @joehairie)
We recently interviewed the owner of Brunei Satay House III, Mr AG Shahril bin AG Ali, a local of Malay Brunei ethnic. It was an awesome interview as we did get to understand the history and on goings of the brand, Brunei Satay House. We love to share what have been relayed to us during the interview, so here it is, the interview between curiostraveller.com with Mr AG Shahril bin AG Ali.
Can you tell us something about yourself?
I was born on January 13, 1991 in Beaufort, Sabah. I went to St Paul, Beaufort for my elementary and secondary education. After that I managed to get a place at Universiti Teknologi Mara (UITM) and graduated with Diploma in Business Studies. I furthered my education at the same institution and later on graduated with a Bachelor Degree (Honors) in Marketing.
I later on worked at Nexus Resort and Spa, Karambunai. Few months later, I realized that I am more into business and so here I am, being the owner and managing my own restaurant, Brunei Satay House III. When I was still at school, my ambition was to be a steward for Malaysia Airlines as I do love travelling and meeting with people from all over. My destiny changed, I am bound to be a businessman!
During leisure time, I love to chill out at the comfort of my own home. I love spending time at my home as I badly need to rest after all the hectic schedule in managing the restaurant not to mention the weekly trip, driving from Kota Kinabalu to Beaufort and back again.
How did you get yourself in business?
My family runs business here and there, especially in Beaufort. During attachment with the Nexus, I did a lot of thinking about continuing the legacy of Brunei Satay House that started by my father. This restaurant that I own and manage started operation on January 7, 2015. So its been more than a year already for me in this challenging but interesting F&B business. I have another outlet under the same brand, a kiosk actually and the location is just about 2 blocks away from this restaurant.
How Brunei Satay House started? What’s with the Brand? How unique it is?
Brunei Satay House actually started in 2004 in Beaufort Sabah. The brand is actually founded by my Father, a dedicated businessman who started from scratch until he become so successful in his business. Long time ago he had this small grocery shop named as K Ekonomi. He later founded K Ekonomi Restaurant and after some time he thought of changing the name as it did not sound so commercial. He finally founded the brand, Brunei Satay House.
Later on, my sisters opened a branch of the Brand, in Beaufort as well but located on the other side of the river where all the big banks are located. All 2 outlets are still in operation up to this moment. Years later, I opened another branch in Taman Indah Permai, Sepanggar, Kota Kinabalu. The uniqueness of this brand lies on the name itself, Satay. People come to our restaurants for the Satay.
The outlet in Beaufort, Brunei Satay House is actually being listed in TripAdvisor. We are happy that more and more listings in blogs, magazines and papers, keep coming from day to day. It strengthen our brand and we can’t thank you enough to the media(s). We will try our best to give better services and products to our customers.
What’s the biggest challenge so far in managing Brunei Satay House III?
Once, my main chef was on leave and the restaurant had no chef in the kitchen. It was a chaotic 2 weeks and we couldn’t find a replacement on time. It was the most difficult time for me as we have to keep rejecting orders as there were no chef in the Kitchen. Alhamdullilah, we managed to get a replacement after that chaotic 2 weeks. Now, I have a main Chef and 2 other cooks and they work on shifts. Whenever someone is about to apply for leave, 2 other cooks will be in the kitchen.
Apart from Satay, what are other most popular menu(s)? When is usual peak time for this restaurant?
That is straight forward question and so is the answer..
- Nasi Goreng Brunei Satay House(Food)
- ABC Buahan (Beverage)
Our restaurant is normally full with customers during dinner tine especially when it’s public holiday. We do get large number of customers during day time but not that great in comparison to dinner time.
What is the plan for the menu in the near future?
We are currently in the process of selecting new menu for our restaurant but for now we can’t really reveal it. However, we will announce it in Facebook when we are ready for that.
Why customers must choose this restaurant over the abundant restaurants in Kota Kinabalu?
We do have varieties in our menu and of course our signature dish, Satay that is said to be among the best. We do try to improve our standard and quality from time to time. Accompanying the Satay are Kelupis, Kou Chung, Lamban and Nasi Himpit. It is rare that restaurants serve these 4 add ons with Satay. All 4 are best eaten with the Peanut Sauce/Gravy.
How do you see Brunei Satay House III in 5 years time?
I hope that my plan to have one more branch will become a reality. I am actually in the process (initial stage) to do that. While that is happening, I am also looking forward to have more kiosks in another area so that our brand will be getting bigger and bigger. I want to have a kiosk that is located right in the heart of Kota Kinabalu CBD. In the long run, I am planning to produce frozen food starting with Satay and intend to market it gradually until it reach the international market.
What is your advice for young entrepreneurs who are about to gt serious in food business?
They must be able to choose food that are related to the people around the business premise. Choosing the right menu will ensure steady flow of customers. The premise must have at least one Signature Dish that is popular among Malaysian. It will be easy for people to remember the brand, name of the restaurant.
The curiostraveller.com wish to thank Mr AG Shahril for the interview, we wish you all the best in your business and in your next venture. We do hope the content of this interview will help other future young entrepreneurs in setting up their own food business. The curiostraveller.com team members support brave local entrepreneurs in Sabah.