Eateries juggle dine-in, takeaway and delivery services while ensuring they adhere to social distancing rules

At Marina Bay Sands, five restaurants have reopened, but only for its Sands Rewards members.
At Marina Bay Sands, five restaurants have reopened, but only for its Sands Rewards members.PHOTO: MARINA BAY SANDS

SINGAPORE - As restaurants reopened for dine-in amid the busy Father's Day weekend last week, many are still offering takeaway and delivery.

Juggling the three avenues of business, business owners say, is likely to remain the norm for the rest of the year, as people remain cautious about dining out. And they have to do this under the watchful eye of social distancing officers.

Unlike Mother's Day last month, where customers had to grapple with major delays or cancellations caused by a surge in orders, there appeared to be no such mayhem during Father's Day.

Goodwood Park Hotel's restaurants saw better sales for the Father's Day weekend compared with Mother's Day. Although orders streamed in only within the same week, a hotel spokesman says a large number were for takeaway and delivery.

Cantonese restaurant Yan at the National Gallery Singapore cut down delivery slots for its dinner session during the Father's Day weekend, to ensure a smooth dine-in service and minimise the risk of delivery delays, says general manager Shek Chi Kuen, 57.

Over the same weekend, online restaurant platform Chope fulfilled 18 per cent more reservations compared with an average weekend in February, when Covid-19 started breaking out here. There was also a 150 per cent jump in delivery orders from the week before Father's Day.

Chope has launched what it calls a restaurant reopening playbook for food and beverage establishments, which addresses concerns for restaurants and diners and comprises guidelines for matters such as staff management and digital transformation.

Founder and chief executive officer Arrif Ziaudeen says: "The last three months have been very (tough) for the restaurant industry, but we've learnt to turn this challenge into an opportunity for innovation and growth.

"The benefits of digitising go beyond hygiene as digital solutions come in handy for safe distancing, managing queues and table management."

Indeed, diners should expect mandatory SafeEntry check-in, cashless payments and contactless menus via scanning of QR codes. Restaurants also encourage reservations to reduce waiting times for walk-in diners and overcrowding at entrances.

To better manage dine-in, takeaway and delivery orders, PS.Gourmet, which runs the chain of PS.Cafe restaurants, has a central phone number for all reservations.

 
 
 
 

This helps space out bookings during peak meal times, says business director Edward Lee, 42. Diners can also ask questions and get information about safety measures.

PS.Cafe and its sister brands Chopsuey Cafe and Jypsy are offering products that are exclusive to its delivery-only concepts Chopstix, Popsup and Sipsy.

But not everyone is in a hurry to open.

The F&B businesses at the integrated resorts, for instance, are resuming dine-in service in phases.

On June 19, the first day of phase two, Ocean Restaurant, Osia Steak and Seafood Grill, Japanese restaurant Syun and the Malaysian Food Street at Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) resumed dine-in. Last Thursday, the one-Michelin-starred restaurant table65 also reopened.

They offer individually wrapped cutlery, while air ionisers have been installed in the restaurants, says an RWS spokesman.

The rest of its F&B outlets will open progressively.

Over at Marina Bay Sands (MBS), five restaurants have reopened, but only for its Sands Rewards members. They are Black Tap, Bread Street Kitchen by Gordon Ramsay, Cut by Wolfgang Puck, Mott 32 and Yardbird Southern Table & Bar.

The rest will open in July. Japanese restaurant Koma will open on July 1 and db Bistro & Oyster Bar will open on July 3.

When it reopens, Rise restaurant will serve its buffet spread directly to the tables to minimise cross-contamination at buffet stations. A service captain and server will be assigned to a section of about seven to eight tables.

Ms Christine Kaelbel-Sheares, MBS' vice-president of F&B, is also exploring the use of food trolleys and customised protective guards at the buffet counters for added protection.

From July 4, restaurants operated by MBS will also offer signature dishes for takeaway via its new Gourmet Takeaway platform.

For a start, it will offer more than 120 dishes from the first five reopened restaurants. When all its restaurants are open, more than 260 dishes across its 12 celebrity chef and signature restaurants will be available.

Ms Kaelbel-Sheares says: "The rationale behind this staggered reopening of our restaurants is to ensure a safe and controlled environment for our guests when we restart operations.

"This also allows staff sufficient time to undergo training on new hygiene standards and ease into new formats of operations."