Singapore

F&B outlets prepare to welcome guests again

Some already experiencing a surge in bookings but others are taking their time to prepare for reopening

With Singapore entering phase two of its reopening of the economy this Friday, owners of food and beverage (F&B) outlets are gearing up to welcome back their customers.

Beppe De Vito, chef-owner of ilLido Group, which runs Italian eatery Braci at Boat Quay, told The New Paper that it has been fully booked for the weekend.

He said the restaurant's capacity will be halved because of safe distancing measures.

"We are also providing contactless payments and digital menus to minimise touch points, and we will provide digital ordering and pre-orders for on-premises dining," Mr De Vito added.

Head chef and co-founder of The 1925 Brewing Co., Mr Ivan Yeo, 39, said he was looking forward to welcoming diners.

His restaurant is almost fully booked for the weekend, with Father's Day falling on Sunday.

"As business owners, we look forward to occasions like this to recoup some losses. But I'm also worried if patrons may flout safe distancing rules," Mr Yeo said.

"Most of my customers are regulars and everyone knows one another. I don't want to be a wet blanket to keep reminding everyone to stay a distance."

He has roped in more manpower this weekend to ensure that crowds comply with safe distancing measures.

Mr Ashok Melwani, owner of Modesto's at Orchard Rendezvous Hotel, decided yesterday to extend its operations.

The restaurant was set to close for good at the end of this month, but with its landlord allowing an extension, Mr Melwani can accommodate his regulars for awhile longer.

Mr Melwani, 62, said: "Phase two (was) a huge factor to extend (operations), but it's not a deciding factor to go back and negotiate to renew our lease."

Noting that it was not feasible to continue the business in its current form, he added: "When I look back on this time, I'll just be happy that regular customers got to come in again.

"Three full weeks of dining is a good amount of time for customers to come by one last time."

Veteran restaurateur Loh Lik Peng of the Unlisted Collection said he received a high number of reservation requests at his casual dining restaurants like The Market Grill and Salted & Hung, but he was unable to fulfil all of them.

"The main challenge is the reduced capacity," Mr Loh, 49, said.

Two of his fine-dining restaurants, Cloudstreet and Zen, will not be reopening this Friday, as they require at least a week for premium ingredients to be flown in from countries such as Japan, Sweden and France.

Mr Govinda Rajan, owner-chef of Mr Biryani, said it will reopen for dine-in only on June 25, as it will take a week to prepare the restaurant.

Australian eatery Ryan's Kitchen will open only next month with a revamped menu.

Co-founder Wendy Foo said: "There is also an uncertainty among diners on whether they should still head out to dine or stay at home, hence we are taking the cautious approach to not reopen. It is definitely better to be well prepared than rush into reopening."

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