We’re back with Major Anecdote this month. A while ago we talked to Al, the owner of Al&Co. He had a brief chit-chat about his business, the history behind Al&Co, the relationship with the customers, and how to humanize humans.
Aldias Darmawan or usually referred to as Al, is the owner of Al&Co. Al&Co is a coffee shop in Cimahi that started on 22 February 2020. He created this place for one reason because he wanted to make a coffee place that anyone could go to, but more importantly, he wanted to make a coffee palace that could be visited by one person. So people can have coffee with me or they can read books here. Or maybe he can listen to the music of his choice or even let out his complaints in this place whatever he/she likes.
His Story begins…
“One of my forms of happiness right now is when I see my guests sitting in front of me and telling me about what they are like and how they feel.”
What inspired the name “Al&Co”?
Al & Co means Al and Company. It was taken not from my real name but from my son, Altahir, his nickname is Al and I want to add it to this brand, namely Al & Co. I also want to oversee other brands that may be born someday and the existing brands that are managed by my wife.
Many coffee shops open everywhere, what do you feel sets you apart from the others?
From my point of view, there's no difference. Whether it's tea or coffee, almost what I serve here is usually found in every other coffee shop. Maybe the difference is that I'm here trying to apply something that some businessman may have done, but I'm applying it again, which is related to the appointment. I use appointments in one day, maybe approximately 3 sessions: in the morning at 10, in the afternoon at 1, in the afternoon around 4. So the maximum capacity of people is 3 hours in this place and I hope that by giving 3 hours to people who come to this place, he can freely express himself to become a complete human being.
What kind of ambiance do you wanna create at your coffee shop?
I want to create the atmosphere that was born from my guests. So more or less the atmosphere is created naturally from every guest who comes, from the various characteristics that come here. Which will never be the same atmosphere when one person comes here. That's why more or less from music, books, personality, everything is very diverse. I really want to create a flexible atmosphere, which follows human nature.
Is there any satisfaction in being able to chat with guests who come personally?
I feel very satisfied every time I meet each guest which is different from each person. Even my loyal customer has come 60 times with different stories, with his evolution every day. I once said on an anniversary of Al& Co that one of my forms of happiness right now is when I see my guests sitting in front of me and telling me about what they are like and how they feel.
Any recommendations on what’s the best we should order at Al&Co?
I usually leave it to the guests who judge, but usually, the most awaited menu when they come to Al&Co is the apple pie or custard pie that I make directly. What usually takes a long time to prepare, it can take 30 minutes plus 20 minutes during baking and I make sure the ingredients are all fresh.
In the future, will there be differences in menus or menu variations?
I apply the pattern of life where I just want to enjoy today and henceforth life will run as flexible as possible. We don’t know what the future will be like, but I want the essence of Al& Co to be maintained as it is for me, my wife, my children, or whoever my guests are here. Any changes will evolve by themselves with the passage of time.
Aside from running your business, what are some personal hobbies or local activities that you enjoy?
I have lots of hobbies. I'm in any field that I find fun. Maybe one of them is reading books, I don't really like reading books but when I read books I really like some books that I like. But my main interest that has never been lost and stuck at this time is probably music to be more precise. I'm not a musician but I really like music. You could say I listen to all genres from classic, dangdut, to Korean music. It's not a hobby anymore, but a routine.
What advice would you give to someone who is dreaming of opening their own small business?
Don't forget to be yourself first. And secondly, don't forget to pour yourself into everything around you. Especially to the things you love, for example, there are scales, kettles or whatever, give life to these objects, so that later they will be friends with you and your guests. And what you mix, or whatever you make later will be memorable and will feel warm.