“What are you doing Anisah?”
Was that too obscure an introduction? Well, now that I have your undivided attention, I have no doubt you too would like to know what this creative individual was up to.
Responding to her mother’s inquiry, Anisah Alkaff showed her that she had been sketching out several floor plan layouts depicting an open concept kitchen-dining room space. This was in support of her partner, Gary Singh Sekhon, who after having discovered a commercial unit next door to his office becoming available in July 2016, began the process of applying for a business license. Renovations to the unit, which is located directly above Peppermint Café in the Kiulap Commercial Business District began in earnest just 4 months later.
“I was bored and I wanted to try something new. I really felt like this was something that I could watch grow organically,” Gary shares with a hint of a smile before adding that due to recent measures implemented by the government, the entire process of registering and setting up the business went smoothly. “You hear stories sometimes about people having trouble setting up their business but I felt like it was the opposite for me. Every step of the way it’s been quite easy. The authorities have been quite supportive.”
Fast forward half a year to late April 2017; the Kitchen Table – a niche space for rent that the community at large can utilise for private functions and public gatherings – was launched. Not to be mistaken with co-working spaces such as The Work Space and The Post, the Kitchen Table operates on a ‘Thematically-flexible’ concept by comparison. Simply put, this space is a blank slate meant for molding by the client to suit the nature of their event.
“We wanted to be trendy, but at the same time we didn’t want to inject too much of our personalities into this project, that way the space can be more versatile,” Gary states, before Anisah interjects, adding, “Except for the greenery. That is most definitely us. We love plants and had to have a good number in here.” Rejoining the conversation after a slow deliberate inspection of his surroundings, including the plants suspended from the ceiling, Gary says, “Actually, I think we could probably use more.”
Equipped with a fully functional kitchen armed with a selection of utensils, cutlery and appliances that occupy a third of the total area, the rest of the interior comprises a grey couch, brown leather padded benches, a brick-walled stage, as well as customised cabinetry adorned with embellishments. The colours in play revolve around differing hues of earthy browns complemented by a generous spattering of greenery. Further accentuated by the golden glow of the lights when dusk falls, the ambience is warm and welcoming, with a vibe so tangible it almost feels like one could wrap themselves in it like a blanket. This is balanced out by the concrete floor, which was installed by BUE Enterprise and provides a psychologically cooling effect while adding character.
Originally targeting home businesses and e-vendors by providing them with a platform for holding communal pop up events; Kitchen Table has gradually grown to host myriad events including high teas, private gatherings, group dinners, birthday parties, bridal showers and Christmas dinners to mention a few. Courtesy of positive reviews on the grapevine and via word of mouth, which is further evidenced by the gorgeous imagery shared on their Instagram account, business is steadily growing.
Touching on some of the more interesting events, Anisah says, “We had an open mic night once. That was organised by the Toast Club, which was our biggest event so far with around 50 people by invitation. Bang & Olufsen held a private showcase here in which they set up a showroom section featuring one of their speakers. They had service staff on hand and even flew in the speaker’s designer from overseas. The founder of Mutiara Headscarves held a high tea in conjunction with her product launch too.”
Some of the events hosted by the Kitchen Table have even had an international flair to them such as a farewell dinner held by a group of German women, pot luck gatherings by members of Brunei’s Filipino community, as well as a dinner prepared by Korean exchange students for their Bruneian counterparts. “We’ had a jewellery showcase and café set-up once in which a lady flew in a selection of freshwater pearls from Indonesia for display,” Anisah also adds.
“This is still all a learning process for us,” Gary says while modestly pointing out the futility of resting on one’s laurels. “We do feel like the quality of the kitchen is something that we should constantly be upgrading and improving over time, by adding more appliances and equipment for example.” Managerial-wise, “we want to keep things as simple as possible. We don’t cross check an inventory list with clients before and after an event.”
It is always pleasant to see an establishment embracing the honour system when dealing with customers in this day and age, so the least we can do as customers is be nice in return. We at BHC Magazine will share a little secret with you, the public, regarding how this can be achieved. Leave the confetti at home.