KL icon Coliseum Cafe on Jalan TAR shuts for good, a victim of pandemic

The Coliseum Café was one of the capital’s oldest and most iconic restaurants. — Picture courtesy of Facebook/Coliseum Café
The Coliseum Café was one of the capital’s oldest and most iconic restaurants. — Picture courtesy of Facebook/Coliseum Café

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KUALA LUMPUR, June 6 — The Coliseum Cafe, one of the capital’s oldest and most iconic restaurants, will now close permanently due to the Covid-19 pandemic which has taken a toll on its business.

The Malaysian Insight reported that the restaurant last served customers on March 18 last year, shortly before the first movement control order (MCO) came into effect. Coliseum, which opened in 1921, was set to celebrate its centennial this year.

Its marketing manager Azrain Azman said the decision to cease the restaurant’s operations along Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman was made when its tenancy expired. Coliseum Cafe is located in a pre-war building adjacent to the Coliseum Cinema, another venerable KL landmark.

“Yes, it is closed for good. We are saddened that we could not celebrate our 100th anniversary.

“We have not been able to sustain since the first MCO. We relied on dine-ins, and the regulars who used to visit the café couldn’t come because the city was in lockdown,” he said.

Amid a tough year which saw many eateries and businesses shut down due to the economic effects of the MCO, Coliseum witnessed a sharp drop in customers since it was situated in a Covid-19 red zone and most of its regular customers worked from home.

Azrain added that as a result, the restaurant had no choice but to close down when its tenancy expired.

However, its three other outlets located at Plaza 33 in Petaling Jaya, MidValley Megamall, and more recently at IOI City Mall in Putrajaya, remain operational.

The outlets in MidValley and IOI City Mall remain closed due to the ongoing MCO 3.0, while the Plaza 33 outlet is operational but only for deliveries.

The classic furniture and fixtures from the original restaurant have since been salvaged, placed at the IOI City Mall outlet which opened in December last year. 

The marketing manager said some of the salvaged items include chairs and cutlery, which are a century old. Some of the original cafe’s tableware is on display at the IOI City Mall outlet, placed in display cases.

“The outlet is new, but with an old nostalgia feel to it,” Azrain said.

The original restaurant, less than one kilometre from Dataran Merdeka, was best known for its dishes including the tomato sauce-based Hainanese chicken chop and wet-aged steaks, among others.

Its patrons include the British novelist and playwright W. Somerset Maugham, who visited Malaya twice in the 1920s, British colonial planters, tin miners and military officers.

Other notables who favoured the restaurant include cartoonist Datuk Mohammad Nor Khalid, better known as Lat, and former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who last patronised Coliseum Cafe in 2013.

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