PENANG – In order to pursue his dreams of setting up a dog-friendly restaurant, Chen Yong Fook gave up his job in Kuala Lumpur and return to his hometown in Penang.

Chen started from scratch in F&B industry and established the 32 Light Street cafe.

“The shop name has been left behind by the previous owner of the property. I knew the owner and since I liked it so much, I took over the shop at a time he was to dispose of it.

“Besides, it is also to fulfill my wife’s dream of setting up a dine-in restaurant for pet owners and their dogs.”

Dog trainer

Chen and his wife had been working in KL for many years and had planned to return to their hometown after retirement. However, they decided to leave the capital city earlier to start pursuing their dreams last year.

“Since we did not have any experience in this industry, we had to use this restaurant as a place to learn about this trade, and hope to set up a dog-friendly restaurant where dog lovers could bring their canine friends along when dining.”

“Fulfilling this dream indeed requires some effort. Although we have now owned a restaurant, a dog-friendly restaurant here is still impractical at this moment.”

Parking problem

Besides needing a yard for the dogs to frolic, the restaurant still needs enough parking space to avoid inconveniences to pets owners.

“Even in KL this kind of restaurants are rare. There are only about five of them in the entire Malaysia, a very small fraction compared to other countries.”

In order to create their dream restaurant, the couple has leased the cosy restaurant and began to learn the business model of catering last year. They have until now retained the design from former owner.

“Previous owner spent around RM300,000 (S$120,999) on renovation and I quite like the nostalgic ambience of the design.”

Apart from the former owner’s design, Chen also added his own tastes in interior deco.

“Hand-made works are the masterpieces from my mother and her friends, and those are the only changes I’ve made to the restaurant’s interior design.”

Chen’s mother, Wang Mei Lin would do sewing works with friends during their free time and sell their products at the shop.

At the same time, the hand-made products added some colours and shapes to the original wooden design, transforming the otherwise monotonous eatery into a cosier and more pleasurable environment.

“Although the changes were trivial, I hope to shape the restaurant with a combination of food and handicraft restaurant.”