From handling a mere roadside stall to founding Johor’s trendiest mamak restaurant, it takes years of determination and hard work for founder Sahul Hameed to carve his own path of success from scratch.
Surely, there are plenty of mamak franchises in Malaysia but in Johor, Restoran E&Y Sahul wears the crown and dominate our Malaysian favourite food scene at the southern state. The sight of the crowd during the World Cup 2018 finale will you make you join their cult. Serving over two thousand people in a night, Restoran E&Y Sahul continues to be a choice of comfort and indulgence.
Keeping The Dream Alive
It was not an easy journey for Sahul Hameed E. Yacob to start-up this mega franchise in his hometown–but it is a clear-cut vision for Sahul to become an entrepreneur. He was only 11 years old when his father has left the earthly realms. Yet, his father gave a long-lasting impression on him.
“When I was a kid, I was already groomed into the food industry by helping out at my father’s mamak shop. It was just a small business but back then, it is my family’s source of income”, he shares. After his father’s passing, Sahul worked in various jobs from a dishwasher, kitchen helper to a pandan tapper.
“So as I grew up, I wanted nothing more than to have my own business. In 1994, me and my family opened a small warung in front of a bank selling mee goreng mamak (mamak signature fried noodles), mee rojak (noodle salad dish), mixed rice and teh tarik.” In two years, they managed to move their warung into a rented shophouse with the support of their regular customers. For Sahul, managing the family-business helps him to polish his skills.
“It wasn’t until 2008 when I could finally realise my dream of becoming a restaurant owner. It is truly a joyous moment for me to launch my first Restoran E&Y Sahul at Jalan Maju in Johor Bahru; and the rest is history.”
With Sweat and Smiles
Pick anything off their menu and Sahul knows how to make it for you. He is one of the restaurant franchise owners who takes pride in his products and manages his workers from top to bottom. “Since I laboured over different kinds of jobs, I am skilled in every aspect in running a restaurant.”
“Here, we have all sorts of Malaysian cuisine. Nasi lemak, tandoori chicken, char kway teow, mutton soup, rojak, briyani are some of the popular ones.” However, the highlight of Sahul’s cooking is the famous fish head curry in Restoran E&Y Sahul.
As an ever-growing entrepreneur, his interest in innovating allows his customer to create their own menu. “These days people have a variety of appetite. You can order out of the menu and we will make it if we have the ingredients on hand. We just had an order for roti tisu with chocolate cream.”
All these couldn’t have happened without the support of the locals, he emphasises. Therefore his biggest mission is to build a closely knitted relationship with his customers. Restoran E&Y Sahul stands out from the rest of mamak franchises with their community programs by organising fun competitions for his customers to walk away with electronic gifts.
The biggest and most celebrated occasion was during the World Cup 2018 finale in their Adda Heights branch in Bandar Dato Onn where more than two thousand people gathered in his restaurant to catch the games on the big screen.
After five franchises across Johor Bahru, he is planning newer and more innovative things for his business. While sharing his fascination for frozen foods, “in future, I might build a hotel or you’ll even see the first drive thru for nasi campur in Malaysia,” he smiles.
Signature Food To Pair
The must-try food in the restaurant is definitely their Nasi Briyani Kashmir, a mixed rice dish cooked with spices adorned with chicken, cashew nuts and boiled egg. Pair it with a cup of Teh Tarik Halia, Malaysian’s favourite ‘pulled’ milk tea with a dose of ginger.
Text Jessy Wong • Photos Jessy Wong & Restoran E&Y Sahul