SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - 1 Market by Chef Wan at Plaza Singapura closed its doors permanently last Sunday after opening to much fanfare 3 ½ years ago.
The restaurant is owned and operated by Food Junction Management and named after Malaysian culinary celebrity Chef Wan, who served as its consultant chef and helped to develop the menu based on his recipes.
The 11,000 sq ft food arena opened in November 2012 and served a variety of halal Asian cuisine, buffet-style.
Mr Jeffrey Lim, general manager of Food Junction, told The New Paper that the decision to close 1 Market was due to a steady drop in business.
"Due to higher operating expenses, we have been unable to sustain the business," he said.
Mr Lim added that the restaurant had not been profitable for some time, though he could not provide an estimation of how much money was lost.
Chef Wan, 59, was quoted by BERITAMediacorp about his unhappiness with 1 Market's management and the drop in food quality.
He said: "The food is not prepared (according to) how I have demonstrated and the chefs do as they please. When I heard what happened there, I got quite angry.
"I can see clearly that the problems with the management have affected the quality of the food."
Chef Wan also felt 1 Market's closure was a shame because they worked hard on the venture.
Mr Lim did not dispute Chef Wan's comments about the food quality but clarified to TNP: "We tried to maintain the identity and essence of 1 Market, but it is hard to find and retain skilled cooks in today's market."
Mr K.F. Seetoh, founder of the Makansutra food guide, told TNP he was saddened by 1 Market's fate as Chef Wan is a household name, but he also noticed a decline in its food standards recently.
He believes that it is difficult to sustain restaurants selling heritage food as people tend to stick to familiar dining options.
He said: "If you want to come into the food and beverage line, you have to do your homework on the menu, location, pricing and promotions carefully.
"Big names do not hold much weight in Singapore. Even three-star Michelin restaurants have had to close down."
1 Market ceased operations without giving any notice to its customers.
Madam Asmiah Ali, 62, was surprised to read about its closure on Facebook. She used to visit the restaurant with her family on special occasions and last ate there on her birthday last year.
The housewife said: "1 Market is one of the few halal buffet places that have a lot of different cuisines at an affordable price. It's a shame they had to close down."