Softsrve, an ice cream and dessert shop, said goodbye to its fans when it announced the closure of its Plaza Arkadia outlet in Desa Park City. The last day of operation is December 13, 2020.
In a Facebook post, they revealed that they weren’t ready to adjust to the changes during the first MCO. This resulted in zero sales in the first few weeks as they did not have a delivery service.
However, they were still trying to adapt to the new norm by introducing their HardHard ice, which they worked tirelessly on.
That burden was borne by just a team of 2, sourcing the packaging and ingredients, research and development, making and mixing the ice cream, and marketing this new category.
While things were getting better for them, the second MCO came in October and they were no longer able to maintain their business and catch up on pre-pandemic rent in Plaza Arkadia.
Fans will definitely miss the cozy atmosphere here / Image Credit: Softsrve
“For our last 2 months of rent plus the cost of demolishing the store to its original state for handover, we calculated the need to sell 1,650 pints of ice cream,” they said in the post.
To that end, they have asked the fans for help to support their final months to pay off the rent and return the point of sale.
Even as a casual consumer, it’s a shame to see how many local businesses fall victim to the pandemic and close after years of success leaving fans devastated.
Started by 4 friends who wanted to bring the soft serve trend to the local market
Softserve was started by 4 friends, Amily Chong, Redmond Ho, Jack Liau and Terrence Tea.
The original founders of Softsrve / Image Credit: Softsrve
In an interview with Buro 24/7, they shared that they were actually good friends in college but got separated when they went to university in other countries.
“When we returned to Malaysia and started working, we were very bored with our day jobs. Then Redmond and Jack went to Korea for a vacation and saw that soft ice cream is quite popular there, ”they shared in an interview.
All four later made a second trip to South Korea together to learn more about the soft serve market.
When they wanted to run a soft serve business, the team went ahead and googled how to make ice cream, they told The Edge.
It took a lot of trial and error and 9 months to perfect the flavors and find the right ingredients. Additionally, the team had no background in F&B as the four had degrees in design and e-commerce.
Fortunately, there were few competitors for artisanal soft ice cream when they brought this concept to Malaysia in 2014, they shared in an earlier interview with Vulcan Post.
“Of course, there are many recipes you can find online, but the key is to tailor them to local Malaysian tastes.”
“For example, Americans love very sweet ice cream, but Malaysians don’t, so we had to take that into account,” Amily said.
Finally, in February 2015, they opened their first store in Damansara Uptown. For the first three months of its opening, they were busy with queues every day.
“It was a milestone in our first year when we saw a large crowd line up for us before we even opened the store,” they told the Vulcan Post in 2017.
Fast forward six years later into the pandemic
At the end of 2018, Softsrve was taken over by Tommy Thong and his partner Debie, who shared them in the above Facebook post.
Tommy Thong and her HardHard ice innovation for MCO / Image Credit: The Edge and Softsrve
Softsrve was linked to the existing party supply store, Brrrloon, which they jointly opened at the Plaza Arkadia Outlet.
During the MCO period, Tommy shared in an interview with The Edge that their earnings were down 99%.
They tried applying for a bank loan announced as part of the government’s stimulus package to help SMEs, but ran into a problem.
“We ran the company in the first year of the takeover, namely 2019, as a sole proprietorship and only registered as Sdn Bhd in January 2020.”
“So we don’t have a financial track record [to apply] for the loan and financial assistance, ”Tommy told The Edge.
Even the banks themselves weren’t sure how to handle the situation when Tommy consulted them.
Rather than relying on the banks, Tommy and Debie took it upon themselves to learn how other ice cream parlors handled their deliveries.
It took them a week to start shipping to their store and eventually reopened on April 11th of that year, but their main customers were just close friends and regulars.
Expecting a sales decline of at least 50% compared to January after the MCO, Tommy foresaw the closure of Softsrve as they are unable to pay rent and electricity.
The rents in Plaza Arkadia are so high that they don’t even dare to turn on their air conditioning and lights because they are trying to cut costs as much as possible.
But the fight was just too hard.
A small farewell present for her last days
Even though they pack up and say goodbye to their fans, it’s not quite the end yet.
Get your last scoop of Softsrve before those doors close for good / Photo credit: Softsrve
“We ask for your support until we close on the last day for the outlet in the hope of being able to pay these costs while we pack and say goodbye to the beloved community here,” they shared in the Facebook post.
If you want to support this local brand one last time, you can have their ice cream delivered to your doorstep via softsrve.beepit.com if you live within 6 miles of Plaza Arkadia.
If you live a little further, they can still deliver to you. They arrange a group purchase through WhatsApp to reduce shipping costs where possible.
“If you miss us already, come and see us, as we will be in operation until December 13th. We hope to say goodbye to you personally and to the community we fell in love with, ”shared Tommy and Debie as they finished their contribution.
- You can learn more about Softsrve here and visit the online shop here.
- Here you can find out more about other Malaysian startups we’ve written about.
Selected image source: Tommy Thong, current owner of Softsrve