Businesses gear up for F1 bonanza

Even though there were about 260,900 people at last year's F1 race, the third-highest in its eight-year history, some eateries and bars experienced a drop in business because of the haze. As this year's event draws near and skies remain clear, some e
Even though there were about 260,900 people at last year's F1 race, the third-highest in its eight-year history, some eateries and bars experienced a drop in business because of the haze. As this year's event draws near and skies remain clear, some eateries have already seen more customers.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

No sign of haze which marred race last year, clear skies fuel hope for larger crowds

The promise of haze-free skies has driven up enthusiasm for this weekend's Formula One Grand Prix, many businesses around the Marina Bay area told The Straits Times.

Some businesses are getting more staff to work from Friday to Sunday, while others are adding tables and introducing race-related promotions in preparation for the crowd.

A cafe near the Esplanade, Suzette, is preparing takeaway boxes for ice cream and waffles.

HAZE CONCERNS

We were worried about the haze because it was the main reason for the drop in both reservations and walk-ins for the same period last year.

MS TAN HWEE LIN, regional sales manager of Carnivore Brazilian Churrascaria, on the negative impact of the haze on business.

"It is our first time experiencing F1, and we are predicting a big crowd this weekend," said Ms June Tan, 27, manager of the cafe, which opened this week.

Other businesses said they are hoping that the clearer skies will bring in better business, after the bout of haze which plagued last year's race weekend.

 

Business at Barossa, a bar at the Esplanade, fell slightly last year because of the haze, said its manager, Mr Jerome Gutierrez, 34.

This is even though about 260,900 spectators attended last year's race, the third-highest number in its eight-year history.

"Hopefully, this year will be better," Mr Gutierrez said, adding that the bar has added six tables and two workers for the weekend.

Already, some eateries have seen more customers over the past few days, as the event draws near and skies stay clear.

Carnivore Brazilian Churrascaria has reported bigger crowds at its Marina Bay Sands outlet, thanks to visitors arriving from overseas for the race.

Said Ms Tan Hwee Lin, the regional sales manager of the three-outlet chain: "We were worried about the haze because it was the main reason for the drop in both reservations and walk-ins for the same period last year.

"Without the haze, business volume for the first half of September has improved, compared with last year."

Japanese restaurant Sen of Japan has been busier since last week, said assistant manager Ellie Superable, 42.

The Marina Bay Sands (MBS) eatery will have seven staff to work over the F1 weekend, instead of the usual five.

Others are putting on special promotions for the Grand Prix crowd.

Patrons who show their F1 tickets at Bazin Bistro & Bar at MBS will get a free Singapore Sling cocktail with any main course.

"We started this promotion last year and a lot of people liked it," said general manager Kamal Prasad Bashyal, 39.

At Pan Pacific Singapore, all its track-facing rooms - where rates start from $1,140 per night - have been snapped up and it expects full occupancy this weekend.

Others remain cautiously optimistic. Mr Jason Pope, owner of Dallas Restaurant & Bar at Boat Quay and Suntec City, said the Zika outbreak has not affected business, for now. "With the slowdown in the economy, the threat of haze and now Zika, we are a little worried," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 15, 2016, with the headline 'Businesses gear up for F1 bonanza'. Print Edition | Subscribe