Best location to open an Arabic restaurant

I'm an expat living in Kuala Lumpur, and I have opened an Arabic restaurant/bakery in Serdang a year ago, at first I was doing great, but now my business is dying, I'm quite certain it's the location, as most residents in the area had fled the place and relocated in cheaper areas. And so many new restaurants have opened next to mine, which made the competition unbearable. I need your advice on where to open another branch of my restaurant, I've been looking into other areas but I could really use some help. This is my last shot at this and my fate depends on it.

I never heard of Serdang, but I can see on google maps that it's way out of town.

May I ask what city do you live in?

Of course you may ask. I am living in Indonesia.

About 80% of food-based businesses fail after about one year unless they are cheap and for local tastes and preferably open 24 hrs. My honest advice would be to learn from your experience.

The usual issue is to earn a lot, a high investment is required, and to be positioned where there is high footfall e.g. Bukit Bintang. But everywhere there are far too many restaurants for the size of the population and visitors.

Getting a Lot at a food court might be your only option. But competition is high there as well. 

To be blunt - there is not a very high demand for the type of food you are serving in the suburbs of KL. Every restaurant experiences the same initial curiosity and then flat-lining because of fickle customers. Many then offer large discounts through Fave etc. to get cheap marketing but it always ends badly.

Same here in Indonesia. So many restaurants fail after a year or less. Location is almost everything. Food quality and advertising is another big part.

In KL locals tend to mostly want mamak, chinese, japanese, italian-asian or western food. Other types of food will never be as popular. I like Arab food but I wouldn't eat it more than once a month because there are too many other great choices available.

Being in a good location like Bukit Bintang is expensive but it's where people go to eat and restaurants are seen by everyone, tourists and shoppers included. Agree with Gravitas that Food courts are great like the one in Pavilion Mall. I used to eat at Tarbush in Starhill Plaza and also order takeaway from their place in the food court at Pavilion Mall.

I think a lot of people have been caught out by thinking they see a gap in the market for their type of cuisine and rush to fill that perceived gap.  The truth is that there usually is no gap and if there are no other similar restaurants then there is no demand.


I am previous corporate executive chef, as my experience, Arabic restaurants is available everywhere in Malaysia, but still have big opportunity in another countries such as China, Vietnam, a lot of tourists very happy with Mediterranean and middle eastern food, the major tourists in Vietnam is Russians and Chinese and both they crazy love of Mediterranean and eastern food, as I saw in China for 9 years and in Vietnam right now.

I second the food court idea for the consistent traffic flow, or maybe you could change up the style of the restaurant ie. buffet/all you can eat, or go super high end, or do catering. If you have a big bakery you could also supply kebab shops or other restaurants. I had Lebanese food before and it was awesome, all the best!

An example is "Mr Shawarma", which is doing well in food courts but failing where they have a shoplot. I would also say be creative and look at other parts of Malaysia for an outlet and not the highly competitive and expensive KL area. Having other restaurants nearby is seen as a plus in Malaysia as it brings footfall. But the popularity of regularly eating this style of food is probably low as mentioned earlier. Mr Shawarma are cornering the fastfood arabic style market. Check out their menu and pricing for some ideas.

Thank you all you've been very helpful

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