OLDTOWN’s Response: Addressing An Influencer’s Viral Kaya Butter Toast Takedown
Just recently, OLDTOWN White Coffee found itself at the centre of a social media storm following an influencer’s critique of their Kaya Butter Toast. This occurred when Ernie Chen, a public figure and self-proclaimed “No 1 Business Coach” of Asia took to Facebook to detail how dissatisfied he was with the Kaya Butter Toast, the house specialty of OLDTOWN White Coffee.
Chen went so far as to refer to the dish as “No Brain Butter Kaya Toast”.
Concerns regarding the restaurant chain’s quality standards were raised in response to Chen’s widely circulated article. The piece examines the controversy’s specifics, assesses both parties’ answers, and illuminates the actions wrought to address customer satisfaction.
The Digital Critique
On May 9th, Chen declared his discontent on Facebook and Instagram, calling attention to the glaringly thin butter slices that were placed on his Kaya Butter Toast at an OLDTOWN establishment. The Facebook post soon gathered traction, earning over 4.5k likes, 4.7k shares, and nearly 2,000 comments at the time of writing.
Chen’s frustration was clear from the numerous facepalm emojis he used to convey his displeasure. Further, he expressed doubt about the company’s general competency, saying that OLDTOWN “sucks at what they once did so well in.” Chen also attached four images showing the lacklustre butter slices on his toast to further illustrate his argument.
Possible Hidden Agenda?
It’s intriguing to note that Chen utilised the opportunity to heap praise on the neighbourhood eatery Oriental Kopi, which debuted in 2021, alongside his critique of OLDTOWN.
In contrast to OLDTOWN’s purported ruin, Chen asserted that Oriental Kopitiam excelled at presenting clients the true value of kaya and butter toast. He also mentioned Dato Calvin Chan, who is thought to be the proprietor of Oriental Kopi, which exacerbated concerns regarding Chen’s motives.
In his own words, “No one does it better than Oriental.”
It’s also noteworthy that a netizen responded to Chen’s statement by saying that Oriental Kopi offers “average” food for high prices “in the name of comfort and ambiance”. The same commenter also accused Chen of removing the butter from the serving of his toast at OLDTOWN to deliberately defame the brand, and possibly with the intention of promoting Oriental Kopi.
Chen denied the claim, saying he was speaking solely about the quality of Oriental’s butter kaya toast and not any other aspect of the restaurant. However, he also added, “We do pay for the comfort.”
“This is NOT a paid advertisement”
On May 16, Ernie published a follow-up post on Facebook explaining that following the social media frenzy, he was invited to a handful of local Kopitiams to “see if their Roti Kaya Butter Got Brain or No Brain.”
He maintained that Oriental Kopi’s Butter Kaya Toast was still his favourite, and even uploaded a photo of his ‘”happy face” enjoying his meal at the eatery. There was also a photo of him at the table with the aforementioned Dato Calvin Chan, whom he described as a “very cool and humble entrepreneur.”
He also confirmed that Chan had been the one to invite him to the outlet.
Chen concluded the post by prompting netizens to share recommendations of their favourite butter toasts for him to try, further asserting that his post was not a paid or sponsored ad. He also told SAYS that prior to receiving the invite to dine at the outlet from Dato Calvin Chan, the two were merely acquainted via business and did not share a personal relationship.
OLDTOWN’s Investigation and Response
When OLDTOWN learned about Chen’s viral postings, they approached him to hear more about the issue at hand. They told Chen that the specific branch in question would be subject to a comprehensive inquiry. It’s essential to take into account that Chen claimed to have previously voiced his displeasure about the lack of butter in his Kaya Butter Toast upon visiting the OLDTOWN store at The Mines Shopping Mall prior to the recent social media post.
Even the replacement order provided by the outlet fell short of Chen’s expectations, as the toast was “too soggy”. However, Chen claimed that when he made repeated complaints, the employees had disregarded the feedback. Meanwhile, the representative for OLDTOWN stated that Chen had not provided the company any direct input regarding the replacement order.
In terms of ensuring customer satisfaction, OLDTOWN initiated undercover surveys via the employment of mystery shoppers at multiple outlets, but no major inconsistencies in the famed Kaya Butter Toast were found.
Retaining Quality and SOPs
Since they began operating in 2005, OLTOWN has emphasised that their butter is hand-cut. Minor variations are unavoidable as a result of the skill and speed required for this task. The representative indicated that since 2005, OLDTOWN has been using SCS butter, which is renowned for its creamy and velvety texture.
Additionally, they retrained the employees at the compromised location and accentuated chain-wide adherence to standard operating procedures (SOPs).
The Value of Context
Although Chen’s criticism ignited an explosive debate, it is essential to take the larger context into perspective. The bulk of OLDTOWN White Coffee’s stores are owned by small- and medium-sized franchisees, and the company has been offering services to Malaysians for nearly two decades. OLDTOWN has also emphasised that a single negative incident shouldn’t jeopardise the reputation of each one of their outlets.
The same sentiment was expressed by a netizen in the comments section of Chen’s post, to which he responded, ‘This is a business brand not outlet brand. One outlet with the same brand represents all outlets.”
All in all, amidst the discourse, the representative said that OLDTOWN wishes to ensure the public that while maintaining consistency in the food and beverage sector may prove challenging, the brand’s dedication to adhering to strict standards of quality remains steadfast.