KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 2 (Reuters) – Airline meals has lengthy been the butt of travellers’ jokes, however Malaysia’s AirAsia Group Bhd is in search of to show that notion on its head – opening its first restaurant on Monday that includes dishes primarily based on its in-flight menu.

AirAsia group CEO Tony Fernandes is so assured the provider’s Southeast Asian fare can be {popular} with diners on the bottom that he’s aiming to franchise the idea internationally, with a New York outlet an final objective.

“Our dream is to have one in Instances Sq.,” he stated.

The provider, which pioneered the price range airline mannequin in Asia – together with charging additional for meals – launched its flagship Santan and T&CO restaurant at a mall in Kuala Lumpur, marking its first foray into the retail meals enterprise.

Normal Supervisor of Santan Restaurant and T&CO Cafe, Catherine Goh, stated 30% of the restaurant’s menu come from AirAsia’s current in-flight menu, which incorporates classics comparable to Pak Nasser’s nasi lemak, a signature Malaysian rice dish with chilli condiment.

The identify “Santan”, already used on AirAsia’s in-flight menus, is taken from the coconut pulp milk that may be a staple in Southeast Asian cooking.

Goh stated a product improvement crew of 5 cooks and culinary arts college students took 9 months to provide you with the remainder of the menu.

“For instance, they’d meet with our Philippines colleagues, who will shortlist the most effective eating places the place they’ll strive the dishes and attempt to replicate the flavours,” she advised Reuters.

“As soon as they’ve developed the product they’ll ship it to the Filipino crew to get their suggestions, whether or not it’s genuine sufficient.”

AirAsia plans to open 5 shops this yr, and 100 over the following three to 5 years.

“We determined to personal a number of eating places however the greater enterprise could be franchising, actually, as a result of we really feel we wish to harness younger entrepreneurial expertise across the area who wish to be a part of this enterprise,” stated Aireen Omar, group president of AirAsia’s non-airline subsidiary RedBeat Ventures.

Aireen stated AirAsia’s digital enterprise, targeted on e-commerce and life-style choices, has the potential to overhaul its airline enterprise.

AirAsia launched into a diversification drive to turn into an asset-light, digitally targeted agency after the $1 billion sale of its leasing enterprise in March 2018.

Its non-airline companies embrace monetary providers BigPay, and journey and life-style arm AirAsia.com, which Fernandes stated are focused to be earnings optimistic in 2021 and subsequent yr, respectively. (Reporting by Liz Lee; Enhancing by Alex Richardson)

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