A look inside The Box at night. Image: Rafidah Hamit

The nation’s largest container-based retail space The Box remained commercially vibrant, even after a month since opening its doors to the public.

Visitors continued to flock the establishment to check out the diverse range of food and facilities offered, besides basking in the ambience.

During the first week alone, food vendors received overwhelming responses from the public with most businesses replenishing their ingredients several times a day.

The Bruneian spoke to several establishments who reiterated that daily sales goals were met and exceeded their expectations.

The Lok Lok place is one of the attraction of The Box. Image: Waqiuddin Rajak

For owner of Lok Lok & Drinks, the bungeo & snack bar, Mohammad Rosli Abdullah, business skyrocketed with many returning customers coming back on the same day.

“We actually debuted our business here and are very happy with its progress. From day one, people were keen to try our food and it has been like that ever since.”

A customer selecting his Lok Lok combination. Image: Waqiuddin Rajak

“It’s a new concept that’s not that well known in Brunei yet so to see that it’s doing well with repeating existing and new customers is amazing.”

Mohammad Rosli explained Lok Lok as a snack concept where customers can choose over 30 types of finger food from sausages to fish cakes and have them boiled or fried.

“People can then choose to have them with different sauces such as spicy chilli oil, tom yum or asam. If you want something more filling, have them with noodles.”

The proprietor credited The Box for the success, adding that he was grateful to be provided a platform to introduce Lok Lok to the local market.

“It’s a fresh platform where everyone is excited about including us and we’re glad that other vendors are also thriving.”

For Food Joint and Take 5 owners Kamal Hassan Hj Metuddin and Abdul Al-Wafiy Hj Mohamad, having a physical store at The Box brought in more customers and exposure they didn’t expect.

A customer browsing through Food Joint’s menu. Image: Rafidah Hamit

“We initially just wanted to sell a certain number a day but we managed to get more than that since The Box’s opening,” said Kamal.

With more than three restock of ingredients a day, he said customers have been coming back for their popular items such as honey garlic chicken wings and the classic beef burgers.

“My partner and I always want to ensure we provide quality products which is why we do daily taste tests. If the wings are small or if the burgers don’t taste good, we won’t try to sell them,” he added.

The two young local entrepreneurs believed that the move to The Box played a significant role in the development of their business.

“It’s great not just for our brand management and exposure but in terms of gaining experiences,” said Kamal, adding that the Food Joint started as a home business while Take 5 started at a physical store.

Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

“It was a learning curve for us and we learned so much from each other on different aspects of running a business. Wafiy as experience in certain areas and I have experience in another hence why we flourish working together.”

“The Box is certainly a good platform for us to start and definitely an improvement from where we were,” he added.

With the increasing demand and popularity, Al-Wafiy said the establishment hopes to expand to meet or become similar to larger fast food chains such as Four Fingers.

“We have our own unique taste and we hope to one day follow in the footsteps of these larger enterprises. I believe we can do it. It’s all about the passion and the perseverance to reach that goal.”

Expressing similar sentiments was food and retro gaming cafe – 8 Bytes café, whose business tripled ever since The Box’s opening.

8 Bytes preparing food for customers. Image: Rafidah Hamit

“It’s been quite busy for us with several restocks a day and recurring customers particularly for our flavoured wings and Rainbow shake,” said owner Aleris Michaele.

The popular wing flavours include Honey Garlic Chicken and Salted Egg Chicken while new flavours are: Cheetos, Seaweed Mayo and Honey Sriracha.

“After being here, customers are getting more exposure of our flagship store in Tanjung Bunut, which has resulted in increased sales there too.”

“It’s great to see how having such a platform can help elevate your business and for that we are grateful.”

A look inside The Box at night. Image: Rafidah Hamit

She lauded The Box’s establishment in helping other local businesses including her café and said similar establishments should be constructed to further help other small, medium enterprises.

The Telanai Avenue-based facility currently houses 26 vendors with more coming soon. The public can visit The Box that is open from 10am to 10pm daily.

The Bruneian | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

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