Restaurateurs branch into produce delivery

Greens on the go: Barn Farmer co-partner Ken Fan sorting vegetables at the Ratatouille restaurant in Kuala Lumpur before delivering them to customers.

PETALING JAYA: Refusing to resign their fate to present circumstances, four co-owners of a restaurant have diversified into delivering fresh vegetables to Klang Valley folk. Thus Barn Farmer was born.

Its marketing director Gary Giam said the service was not even two weeks old.

The idea of a vegetable delivery service came about as Giam and his partners found themselves having to do home deliveries of meals to keep their restaurant business afloat amid the movement control order (MCO).

Customers who received their food had enquired how the restaurant continued operations when supermarket shelves had few fresh choices.

“When they heard that we had our own suppliers, customers started requesting if we could deliver fresh vegetables and meat to them.

“We jumped on the idea because times are challenging for the business.

“There were plans to go into fresh produce delivery when we started the restaurant.

“When the MCO was enforced, we saw it as the perfect time to put the plan into motion,” he said.

Their aim is to engage small-time farmers who are unable to sell their produce at the local morning and night markets due to the MCO.

Giam said that as restaurateurs, they were already in contact with these farmers.

To find buyers for the fresh produce, the partners started by reaching out via WhatsApp to their customer database built over two years with their restaurant business.

On Barn Farmer’s newly set up Facebook page, customers post photographs of how they have cooked the vegetables at home.

The owners populate the page with videos and photographs as part of their stories.

The newly minted company’s delivery team of four had chalked up 40 deliveries on the first two days of business.

A three-tonne lorry goes to three farms in Bentong and Cameron Highlands, Pahang, daily.

The driver starts out at 6am and arrives back in Kuala Lumpur by 10am the same day.

The fresh produce is brought to the restaurant to be washed and packed into 4kg bags containing 15 different types of vegetables.

Each bag is priced at RM50 and will typically contain popular produce such as spinach, Chinese cabbage, corn-on-the-cob, broccoli, carrots and tomatoes.

So far, many of their orders are from Kajang.

To prevent prank calls and outright rejects due to last-minute changes, the company requires advance payment via bank transfers and a customer sends the receipt via WhatsApp.

Supplies are purchased based on advance orders a day prior to delivery to safeguard against wastage.

“We are aware the MCO is temporary so we may have to change our business model once things get back to normal.

“For now our goal is to ride out this crisis by helping ourselves and our customers, instead of waiting for government aid to bail us out,” said Giam.

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