Making Circular Road hip again: F&B outlets form committee to develop precinct

The Circular Road Committee represents almost all the F&B outlets on the 400m stretch of road.
The Circular Road Committee represents almost all the F&B outlets on the 400m stretch of road.ST FILE PHOTO

F&B outlets band together to form independent committee to bolster the area's development

Circular Road, known for its multitude of food and beverage establishments, has formed its own committee to further develop the precinct.

The Circular Road Committee (CRC) was formed independently by the directors of lifestyle and entertainment group Limited Edition Concepts and bars Mogambo and Hero's.

It also comprises various managers, directors and consultants from F&B outlets along the street, including Molly Malone's Irish Pub, Marco Marco, Frogy's and Osteria L'Operetta.

Mr Rick Bower, co-chairman of the committee, says it was set up "to give businesses in the area a collective voice and for them to discuss plans and ideas to increase the footfall of the area".

It was announced in April this year that Boat Quay, of which Circular Road is a part, is set to undergo a $5-million facelift funded by the Urban Redevelopment Authority, with construction beginning in the first quarter of next year.

As part of the revamp, there will be standardised outdoor dining areas and open public areas as well as new guidelines on the practice of touting in the area.

While non-profit group Singapore River One - which aims to increase investments and footfall in the Singapore River precinct - has Boat Quay, Clarke Quay and Robertson Quay under its auspices, the Circular Road Committee wanted to form the group for a "different type of reinforcement" of the street, according to Limited Edition Concepts' director and co-founder Godwin Pereira, who also serves as adviser on the committee.

Mr Bower, 44, who is also the managing director for Mogambo and Hero's, adds that the members of the committee "all share the common goal of boosting the vibrancy and visibility of the street as a whole".

Boat Quay is projected to have 611,873 visitors this year, according to figures from Singapore River One, compared to Clarke Quay's 545,788.

While the idea for the Circular Road Committee was initiated in January this year, it started rolling out initiatives only in July. For example, it has gotten F&B outlets to participate in an ongoing $8 drink promotion on Wednesdays, as well as one on Saturday where participating outlets offer diners 20 per cent off on food bills from 6pm.

Circular Road, once a seedy nightlife district filled with KTV bars, has seen a revamp since Limited Edition Concepts signed an $8-million deal in October 2013 to take over a master lease of 28 shophouse units.

The street now has a mix of tenants including hip-hop club Refuge, French creperie Le Comptoir and Southern Californian craft beer spot Draft and Craft.

The demographic of the clientele of the street has also shifted to professionals who work in the nearby CBD area, families and tourists. A handful of KTV bars remains.

The Circular Road Committee represents almost all the F&B outlets on the 400m stretch of road, excluding smaller operators such as 24-hour eatery Shah Alam and BK Eating House.

While Mr Pereira, 41, says the committee caters to the "trendier operators" at the moment, it plans to keep it open. "It's a committee that will grow," he says.

He adds that Limited Edition Concepts plans to increase the tenants under its lease from 28 to 36 in the next three to six months.

"We're on the hunt to find F&B concepts that have a retail component," he says, hoping that such acquisitions will give the street "a slightly different dynamic".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2015, with the headline 'Making Circular Road hip again'. Print Edition | Subscribe