Charlie’s Café shows us how customers can become family.
If there is one thing that all restaurateurs would vouch for, it is the power of repeat customers. Even in the age of social media, word of mouth still holds sway to a restaurant’s reputation and ultimately its business. As part of our ongoing collaboration with Charlie’s Cafe, we decided to put the theory to test by talking to the patrons who stopped by the eatery on a Thursday evening.
Our first customer was John, who dropped by the café right after work for a cup of good ol’ teh tarik and Charlie’s Cafe’s delicious nasi lemak.
And he proved our suspicion right; John was a repeat customer.
“I’ve been coming here for a while now. Mainly for my after-work teh tarik and meal. It’s convenient for me and I like the food too,” says John.
Sharing his sentiment are friends Tamizh and Yoshini, two lawyers who happen to work just down the road. Charlie’s is the place for them to get-together and catch up about work, personal life and everything else under the sun.
“It’s usually very hard for us to see each other during the day, even during lunchtime because when I’m in the office she will be at the court and vice versa. We only see each other in the evenings after work and this is where we always end up,” explains Yoshini.
“Well, apart from the convenience factor, we are also very satisfied with the food here and I personally like the simple décor of the place,” adds Tamizh.
Indeed, the understated interior of Charlie’s is a tell-tale – the café is not trying to impress you with its ID but rather through its scrumptious food and good intentions. Its simplicity also encourages meaningful conversations, not fluff chats and time spent on snapshots for social media.
Young couple Mun and Nick walked in with one main goal – to get a taste of another delight at Charlie’s, the UFO tart. Unfortunately, these tarts are notorious for selling like hot cakes, and predictably the restaurant was out of those on that evening.
“This is actually my second time here. The first time I came by they were out of the tarts too,” says Nick. This time around he brought his girlfriend, Mun along, who was there for the first time.
“The place looks neat. I like it. But what I’m looking forward to is the chicken chop,” reveals Mun while throwing a playful look at Nick. Apparently Nick had spoken highly of the dish and that was how he got her to pay a visit to Charlie’s with him.
The most riotous table in the restaurant, however, belonged to a group of four friends, who got together for a long overdue meet up. The evening was between steamboat and Charlie’s, and of course the latter emerged victorious.
“We ended up here thanks to our friend Lawrence, who insisted on the place,” says Nana, the Bornean in the group. Turns out, from the four, only Lawrence is a regular while the others are newcomers. However, the casualness of Charlie’s immediately put them at ease, evident from their hearty laughter throughout their dinner.
“I come here all the time with my wife and other family members. But guess what? The UFO tart still proves elusive,” shares Lawrence while everyone laughs together, including Debra, the co-owner of Charlie’s. In the short time of the group being there, she has bonded with them, over Nana’s Bornean origins as well as everyone’s shared love of laksa.
Now, that’s how you turn customers into family.
This story is part of an ongoing collaboration with Charlie’s Cafe to showcase the different aspects of the social enterprise F&B outlet.
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