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Dr Mahathir fusses over his bakery shop - from hospital bed
Carolyn Hong
Thu, Oct 11, 2007
AsiaOne

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad may still be recuperating in hospital after a quadruple bypass, but that has not stopped him from micro-managing his bakery shop and bistro that has just opened at a swanky new mall.

The former Malaysian premier has been grilling his Japanese business partner about the nitty-gritties of the business, from the quality of the cookies, to the finer details of the d'cor of the shop which opened in the upscale Pavilion mall in Kuala Lumpur four weeks ago.

"He has a preference for the European style but with modern touches," said Mr Jiro Suzuki, his business partner.

The Loaf, the second outlet after the one in Langkawi, is drawing in a good crowd despite charging prices that are more than double of other bakeries.

The new 335-sq m bakery-bistro is spread over two-and-a-half storeys.

The Langkawi outlet broke even within the first year.

Mr Suzuki, 41, visited Dr Mahathir a few days before The Loaf opened, and also sent over baskets of his favourite chilli focaccia, croissants, and other pastries.

The Japanese businessman says he is used to being grilled since he teamed up with Dr Mahathir to open the Langkawi bakery in July 2006.

Mr Suzuki said the fastidious Dr Mahathir turned up at the Langkawi outlet one day, and found the tablecloths flapping in the wind.

He told Mr Suzuki to get clips to hold them down. But he called the next day to say that he had already bought them.
Dr Mahathir, 82, who retired in 2003, has always been a stickler for details. He used to make notes in his famous little notebook which he fished out at weekly Cabinet meetings, telling ministers to act on damaged highway lamp-posts and other minor problems.

He underwent heart surgery on Sept 4, and is still being warded at the National Heart Institute where he is undergoing physiotherapy.

On Wednesday, he joined Malaysians to watch the country's first astronaut blast off into space, a project that was his idea.

The Mahathir name has drawn crowds to The Loaf which sees up to 750 customers a day. They do not mind paying RM27 for a loaf of bread, or RM4.60 for a croissant.

Mr Suzuki says The Loaf uses a traditional Japanese technique to bake the bread.

The partners plan to open an outlet in Singapore next year, and will start scouting for a suitable location soon.

"I believe Singapore has a ready market because they are used to high quality products," he said.

 
 
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