Many people choose to visit a bar after working hours to unwind after a stressful day. For founders Andrew Dragon, Shawn Loke and Eiap Sue Shin, running a bar is what they do for a living. In an interview with Top 10 of Malaysia, the trio shares their thoughts on how they became inspired by the Middle Ages concept and incorporated it into a bar in town.
While Eiap worked in the food and beverage industry and Loke pursued an architectural career, Dragon got a taste of entrepreneurship at the age of 22 when he set up his very first enterprise selling fashionable accessories and tech products to university students. “From that came many other ‘rolls of the dice’ and I made it a point to associate myself with the right people. The experience took me places I never imagined and eventually brought me to a bigger sense of belonging,” he says.
Anno Domini Bar, also known as AD Bar, came into being through an inspiration obtained from the Middle Ages, particularly from the 5th to 15th century. The ambience was created by taking references from the architectural materials of Middle Ages and applying them throughout the premises of the bar; heavily textured stucco wall, rough stone edges, texture paint, the touch of solid wood customized furniture and fittings, steel chains, open ceiling concept and more. The cozy bar, which was opened in late 2016, is located in a little hideout among the hustle and bustle of Bangsar Telawi.
Running a business is indeed challenging, but doing it with friends could lighten the burden. According to the three buddies, they make the perfect team when their individual dynamic and versatile strengths are put together. With Eiap’s marketing background in F&B, Dragon’s great sense of interaction with people, and Loke’s architecture and design background, everything falls right into place.
Although AD Bar is still relatively new, it is quickly becoming a hot spot in Bangsar Telawi. When asked about what contributed to the growth of the company, Eiap says, “I truly believe the experience is what makes people come back to AD Bar. As a customer myself, I will return to places that make me feel welcome with great service and quality. It is crucial for us to maintain not only the quality of food and drinks, but also staff services. Retaining customers is our number 1 goal, and so far it’s been a success. ”
Despite the growing number of bars operating in and around Kuala Lumpur, Loke says AD Bar is like no other. “For us, it is always about constant improvement to our cocktails. We have newly created cocktail pairings menu to elevate the experience. So it is no longer just having a glass of cocktail, but it goes beyond that,” he says.
When asked about their biggest accomplishments, all 3 of them had the same answer – establishing AD Bar. “All the little things I have been through add up to my achievements. Being able to fight victoriously through life’s greatest obstacles is truly rewarding,” says Dragon.
Juggling between personal and professional life isn’t easy, but according to Loke, time management is essential. “Time management and discipline are two very important elements in running a business. Without these two, you can’t possibly handle the many tasks and also make time for yourself,” he says.
The entrepreneurs believe perseverance is a trait that is very important in running a business. When asked what advice could be given to aspiring entrepreneurs, Eiap has this to say, “Challenges are inevitable, but embrace them because it only makes you better. There is always a learning curve.” Dragon believes that being positive is key in doing business. “Take negative in and turn it into something positive. You may lose out at some point but it’s only temporary. Don’t be afraid to make bold decisions,” he says.