Merely Ice Cream owner says pivot to online saved the day
He used to sell more than 200 scoops of ice cream a day but during the circuit breaker, customer walk-ins dipped so badly that both his outlets' daily takings fell to less than $100.
Yet Mr Tham Ying Wai, who co-owns Merely Ice Cream at Sunshine Plaza and Our Tampines Hub, did not resort to pay cuts or retrenchment for his four full-time and 10 part-time staff.
Mr Tham, 38, told The New Paper: "Everyone has their own struggles... their own expenses and bills to foot.
"My foremost concern and priority during that period was to make sure everyone (got) paid."
He admitted he felt "uncertainty and anxiety" for the first time in the eight years since he and two other partners set up the business.
They sell fully handcrafted ice-cream with flavours such as Milo Fudge Cake and Horlicks Panda.
EGG YOLKS DUMPED
When food and beverages businesses that sold predominantly drinks, packaged snacks and desserts were ordered to shut from April 22, Mr Tham had to dump about 20kg worth of egg yolks used to make the ice cream.
Fortunately, he said, the team pivoted by coming up with a Google Forms manual delivery system which was shared on its social media accounts.
Other than his staff members, Mr Tham roped in a few friends to help out with home deliveries.
He said: "It was quite heartening. Every week, we received 60 to 100 delivery orders. It managed to help us survive and tide over the period."
While grateful to his team, Mr Tham said government support schemes such as rental waivers also helped.
And of course, the customers, some of whom even made mass orders to send to their friends.
"I see a silver lining out of the whole circuit breaker period (where) we managed to reach customers who may not have tried our ice cream before," he said.
"I find joy in knowing that my ice cream can bring joy to others."
His advice to other F&B operators who may be struggling is simple.
"Have a positive mindset and don't worry so much. Just think about what can be done and work on that."