Mindful of new Covid-19 rules, eateries begin to see some light at the end of the tunnel
Many saw business pick up at the weekend, but they know there is a tough road ahead
The skies may have been dark since phase two of Singapore's reopening, but for food and beverage (F&B) operators, the sun beckons.
Despite dine-in restrictions over the weekend, burger joints Potato Head and Three Buns have been busy with "almost fully booked" lunch and dinner service at both outlets.
The Dandy Collection group, which runs Neon Pigeon, Summerlong and Fat Prince, also reported "a largely successful weekend", while business at Si Chuan Dou Hua restaurant at Parkroyal on Beach Road was "unexpectedly good" too.
But after Holland Village restaurant British Indian Curry Hut was ordered to close for not ensuring safe distancing measures, F&B outlets are especially careful not to run afoul of regulations.
"It reminds us to be vigilant to ensure everyone's safety and for our business to continue operations," said Mr Mike Luo, the marketing manager for Burger+ at Wisma Atria.
There is also the issue of managing customers' expectations, said Ms Serene Ang, chief executive of Foodtech F&B Ventures, which manages Menya Kokoro Singapore.
"Most customers are understanding and encouraging. Only a few will complain about the wait or the inconvenience caused by the additional measures," she said.
While things seem to be moving in the right direction, there is still concern over the challenges ahead.
The people at Bistecca Tuscan Steakhouse and Artemis Grill were frank about the situation.
They started the year "in strong cash positions", but a spokesman added: "Our losses have been substantial and it will take at least a year to get back to where we were."
Relish and Roketto Izakaya chef-owner Willin Low said: "One (concern) is the economic crisis. Once that hits home, people will tighten belts and eat out less.
"The second challenge is cost. Rental will be a big issue. If landlords continue to behave like pre-Covid-19, then many more restaurants won't survive."
This week, three prominent restaurants shuttered - The Pelican, Antoinette and Mai by Dashi Master Marusaya - and The Fabulous Baker Boy's last day will be July 11.
Chef Low said: "I learnt during previous recessions that casual places with drinks, good food and nice ambience continued to do reasonably okay.
"As both our restaurants are within that category, I hope we will survive."
Some have taken the pandemic as a test and a chance to improve. ABR Holdings, which runs Swensen's, sees the silver lining.
Its group business development director Teo Tong Loong said: "Covid-19 steered us towards ramping up product and packaging R&D (research and development), as well as developing our digital capabilities, especially for e-commerce.
"The adversities have only made us even more determined to do better."