F&B and COVID’s Phase Two Heightened Alert: Reactions, Responses, and What Next?
This period’s revert back to Phase 2 (Heightened Alert), closing down the dining in options for all F&B establishments all across Singapore has been a rollercoaster of emotions for the various F&B businesses around Singapore.
For some, it was a challenge, but they were lucky to revert back to the delivery and takeaway portions of the business. Grand Park Orchard Singapore’s very own Mitzo Restaurant & Bar have reverted back to the business model as set with a stronger focus on digital platforms. “Covid-19 has been very challenging for the F&B industry, and I am thankful that the team has been very quick and versatile to re-adapt to takeaway and delivery options,” says David Nguyen-Luu, Cluster Food & Beverage Director. “We had already pivoted to create an online order platform to offer takeaway and delivery and this helped to bring in some revenue during the Circuit Breaker last year. As such, we have been ready to adapt and make our meals available for our guests from the comfort of their home.
“We have since expanded our a la carte offerings to highlight some new dishes from our menu, as well as new curated set menus, individual bento sets and cocktails packed in an easy takeaway format that is suitable for workplace lunches and for the family. We also have our indulgent rice dumplings available for the Dragon Boat Festival, and it comes in a gift box perfect for corporate gifting and to send as a care pack to a loved one.” He adds.
Olivier Bendel, CEO of Déliciae Hospitality Management
For Olivier Bendel, CEO of Déliciae Hospitality Management, the recent jump revert back to this stage of Phase 2 has been a mixed bag. “Despite being somewhat better prepared compared to last year, we have found that this year is a very different state of affairs. Given that the general public are still allowed to go out they are ordering much less,” He muses. “Last year, we had a lot of clients ordering care packages to check in on their loved ones or many had ‘Zoom dinners’ together where they ordered the exact same meals to be delivered to a few addresses. The restaurants are suffering. We thought it was bad last year during the circuit breaker; this ‘lockdown-lite’ is a lot worse on our business.”
David Nguyen-Luu, Cluster Food & Beverage Director
Both establishments were quick to praise their team with regards to making sure that the success of their delivery platforms were paramount. “Our whole team was amazing as they knew the drill on how we would consolidate our restaurants to do deliveries out of just one location on Duxton Hill (we did keep L’Entrecôte Holland Village open to help feed the Bukit Timah area). We had existing SOPs for managing orders, handling delivery logistics etc., and were also quicker to respond with streamlining our menu and delivery/takeaway offerings, as well as centralizing our operations out of one location to reduce overheads during this time,” explains Mr Bendel, adding that members of the team, the chefs and even he himself joins in on delivering the orders from time to time. “We have the whole team helping out in any way they can.”
However, similar stories of support from suppliers, partners and landlords from last year have popped up, showcasing that there is indeed a mixed bag of whether F&B business are currently adequately supported during this time. Mr Nguyen-Luu, for one, was able to say that suppliers for Mitzo Restaurant & Bar, for example, have done their best to show support for the restaurant. “Ssome suppliers have also re-negotiated terms and prices to assist us for the next 6 months, to show their commitment to us and our commitment to them,” he explains. “We value our suppliers and work to ensure that our business and their businesses continue to thrive during these uncertain times.”
Mr Bendel, on the other hand, tells us a different story: “As of mid-to-end May, we are not seeing any substantial support from suppliers, partners and landlords,” he admits. “Our business is suffering; we are relying heavily on the support of our valued customers during this time to keep our team working, but that’s just a small drop in the bucket compared to having guests in the restaurants.”
With that in mind, what does it mean for our F&B Businesses in Singapore? As of now there has been no word on whether the government would be stepping in to help back our businesses up, but only time will tell. #SaveFnBSG is still being used around social media circles to rally up foodies of Singapore to order from their favourite restaurants to keep them going, and hopefully when 13th of June rolls around, we will be able to return back to dine in options.