Rumah Gelato serves almost 1,000 cups at Made in Brunei Market Fair

Unexpected surge of customers as homegrown brand of ice cream sells out three days consecutively

Three days, 132 litres of Gelato, all sold out by 5pm.

If the miniature ice cream parlour from Kiualp’s head-turning response at the recent Made in Brunei Market Fair (MIBMF) is any indication – Rumah Gelato (RG) is on track to become household Bruneian confectionery brand that can hold its own against more established imports.

Gelato, an Italian dessert staple, differs from standard ice cream found in supermarket freezers – it favours milk over cream, resulting in a lower fat content and when it is made; it is churned much slower than ice cream, introducing less air into the mix, resulting in a smoother, more dense taste.

RG’s most popular flavour crunchy speculoos (bottom R) sold out within 30 minutes.

RG isn’t the first to serve Gelato in Brunei, but it is the first homegrown brand to focus entirely on making it.

It’s founder, Mordeny Hj Modihi (main picture), who’s developed some 40 flavours, began selling from home in 2013 before opening his first store at a half-sized unit at Setia Kenangan II in Kiulap in the middle of 2016.

“At the market fair we were able to accomplish our target of introducing our gelato to new customers,” says the 38-year-old, who recently left his corporate job to pursue his business full-time.

Their gelato was sold in small (3 oz), medium (4 oz) and large (5 oz) cups for $3, $4 and $5 respectively, about a dollar less than the standard price.

“The response was really unexpected, we did not expect to clear out, every day so quickly. We started out at 9am to 10am and by 4pm to 5pm – on all three days – we were completely sold out.”

RG’s team of five, all locals, handed out hundreds of small name cards at the event at Bridex – held specifically to showcase locally made products and services – to customers who had yet to hear of the brand’s store in Kiulap.

“A lot of our walk in traffic to our store comes in from referrals and from word of mouth,” says Mordeny, who first discovered Gelato while traveling to visit his wife who was stationed in Europe several years ago. “Our storefront (in Kiulap) isn’t as big as many others in the area, so it can be hard to it notice (visually) from afar.”

MIBMF, held from May 6 to 8, also serves as a trial run for the China-ASEAN expo taking place in Nanning, China from September 12-15 this year, where more than a 100 local micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) with export potential are expected to participate.

Mordeny, who is working on getting RG more food and safety certifications, shared that he hopes to qualify for the event to network with potential investors and distributors.

“To be able to showcase our brand outside Brunei would be a big honour,” said the 38-year-old. “And a great chance to explore what the opportunities are for Rumah Gelato.”

Rumah Gelato is located at Unit F3, Block F, Setia Kenangan II in Kiulap, and are open daily from 12pm to 9pm. Learn more by following @rumahgelato on Instagram and Facebook. You can also get in touch with them at +6732230855 or +6737192919.

Revisit Mordeny’s passion for Gelato, and the obstacles he overcame to start his business by checking out our very first feature on him: bizbrunei.com/take-chance-follow-through/