Local actor gets into food business with eatery in Malaysia

Singaporean actor Aaron Aziz at his cafe, Kidz & Creme located in Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia.

Aaron Aziz in an apron?

It is hardly the typical look for the local actor, most known for his macho roles in action flicks like Evolusi KL Drift, KL Gangster and their sequels.

But on some days, the 38-year-old trades on-screen punches for cakes and food, doing so as co-owner of new concept cafe Kidz & Creme.

It opened earlier this month in Setia Alam, near his home in Kuala Lumpur, and is a collaboration between his wife Diyana Halik, 32, and a family friend.

The cafe targets families with young children.

It provides not only a dining experience but also a space to keep the young ones occupied with hands-on activities such as simple baking.

The idea came from Aaron's own experience as a father. He has three children, Danish Anaqi, 10, Dwi Ariana, eight, and Dahlia Arissa, four.

"I know how hard it can be for a family with children to have a peaceful meal on weekends. Yet, if you don't bring the kids, it's no fun. Sometimes, my own children can get quite antsy, especially when their iPad or mobile phone batteries die.

"A cafe like this, it's for the entire family," Aaron told The New Paper in a phone interview.

The actor, who manages the cafe on his days off, said it is a side business that has always been at the back of his mind.

"I've always wanted a cafe and Diyana has always wanted a place to hold activities for children so I thought it would be best to merge the two," he said.

The food menu, which includes steak sandwich, pastas and baked salmon, involved input from Miss Malaque Mahdaly.

Miss Malaque is one of the cafe's consultants and the fiancee of Syarif from local hip-hop duo Sleeq, which is managed by Aaron's production and management company, Aaron Aziz Productions.


Kids chip in

True to the child-friendly concept of Kidz & Creme, Aaron's children are also exploring ideas that can add to the business.

While Danish hopes to have his own spaghetti creations, Dwi wants to craft her own weekly Saturday specials. She "supervises" fellow young diners whenever she is at the cafe, Aaron said.

Aaron, who pumped in the biggest share of about RM200,000 (S$77,830) into the business, said he hopes to expand to at least two more outlets before considering one in Singapore.

The food and beverage industry is not something Aaron is unfamiliar with. Before his big showbiz break in 2002, he had worked at the likes of Pasta Fresca Da Salvatore and Haagen-Dazs as a waiter.

For now, Aaron has no plans to move away from the entertainment industry.

"But perhaps (the cafe) is something to leave behind for my children," he said.

I've always wanted a cafe and (his wife) Diyana has always wanted a place to hold activities for children so I thought it would be best to merge the two. - Aaron Aziz on what made him decide to open a cafe


'I'm doing this because I was born a Muslim

Like Aaron Aziz, fellow Singaporean actor Adi Putra now has his hands full with his own side project - a fashion business.

The Malaysia-based star recently introduced his eponymous line of traditional Muslim menswear, under his new company Malabis.

The collection includes the kurta and jubah in assorted colours, priced at RM185 (S$72) and RM285 respectively.

Although there has not been an official launch, the clothes were already on sale at a bazaar in Malaysia two weeks ago.

Adi, 33, who models the outfits, also plans to sell them at Ramadan bazaars in Tampines on July 4 and and in Woodlands on July 5. "Green packets" with his face on them will also be sold at S$48 for 120 envelopes.

Adi, who starred in movies like KL Gangster, KL Gangster 2 and Langgar, said he started his new venture with the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan in mind.

But he admitted that there are challenges.

"This trade is not familiar to me so there are many things I have to learn, especially when it comes to sales. But I think I'm doing well and so far the returns have been surprisingly good," Adi told TNP.

While he tries to be as hands-on as possible, he leaves the designing of the collection to his employees.

Adi also runs Malaysian travel agency Hadid Travel & Tours, which was set up last year and which mainly organises umrah (small pilgrimage) packages.

The ambitious actor also hopes to open a religious school for the needy in Malaysia with a friend.

"Some people may say I've changed or 'seen the light'. But to me, I'm doing this because I was born a Muslim - simple as that," said Adi.

This article was first published on JUNE 30, 2014.
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