Stars JJ Lin, Kai Ko, Ashin struggle to keep F&B side hustles afloat in Taiwan

Singaporean singer JJ Lin (left) and actor-singer Kai Ko.
Singaporean singer JJ Lin (left) and actor-singer Kai Ko.PHOTOS: JFJ PRODUCTIONS, KAIKAIKO/INSTAGRAM

TAIPEI - Stars in Taiwan who have side hustles in the food business are struggling to remain profitable, as the island has been experiencing a rise in infections since May and has extended its Covid-19 measures till July 12.

Actor-singer Kai Ko, 30, for instance, has taken on delivering duties for his family's restaurant and cocktail bar, Asylum.

"It isn't easy to keep an eatery running in a pandemic, so the boss has to do the delivery," he wrote on social media, asking for support from fans and celebrity friends as the business was in danger of closing down.

On Wednesday, he reposted on his Instagram Stories photos and videos from customers such as singers Vivian Hsu and Shi Shi, and dancer Winni, thanking them for their orders.

Taiwanese mega band Mayday's lead singer Ashin, 45, who runs StayReal Cafe, has also been hit hard, with business down by 40 per cent.

However, he is still keeping his staff and has no plans to apply for relief subsidies from the government. Instead, he is hoping that by pivoting to takeaway and delivery, the cafe can weather the latest lockdown.

Singaporean singer JJ Lin, 40, who is based in Taiwan, has two outlets of his Miracle Coffee in Taipei. While the one in Neihu District has not been too badly affected as it does mainly takeaways, the one in the Da'an District has seen business drop by 50 per cent despite now offering delivery and takeaway.

There are no plans to implement pay cuts or retrenchments and the cafe has applied for the Taiwan government's pandemic aid to survive.

However, this move was criticised online as netizens said Lin was wealthy from his music career and should not be "wasting resources". Others pointed to his hobby of collecting luxury cars and said: "If he bought fewer cars, he would have enough money."