Many restaurants to resume dine-in on June 19, but some caught unawares by phase 2 announcement

The Gyu Bar in Stevens Road is one of the restaurants that will be open for dine-in. PHOTO: THE GYU BAR

SINGAPORE - Many eateries say they are ready to seat diners again on Friday (June 19 ) after a thorough cleaning of their premises.

Restaurateur Karen Cheng said all her three Japanese outlets - Sushi Kimura in Palais Renaissance, Ichigo Ichie in Robertson Quay and The Gyu Bar in Stevens Road - will be open for dine-in.

She said: "We had already implemented social distancing measures before the circuit breaker. The measures we instituted for delivery operations such as more regular sanitising, more stringent safety processes in food-handling will now be continued for dining-in."

The restaurants also plan to adopt QR code menus and contactless payment.

Burnt Ends in Teck Lim Road will reopen on Friday too. Chef-owner Dave Pynt said his staff are going through practice runs on how service will be run to ensure everyone's safety.

Government rules stipulate that groups cannot comprise more than five persons and tables have to be at least 1m apart.

LeVeL33 at the Marina Bay Financial Centre is ready as well.

Said Dr Martin Bem, founding managing director of the Western restaurant known for its stunning views of the bay: "We have been preparing for this moment for weeks as we expected a short lead time once the Government allows dining-in again."

It will put in air purifiers, offer a new menu that is easier to order from with less interaction with the staff, and make sure each table will be served by only one waiter.

The restaurant is also trying to get its landlord's help to move its reception desk to the ground floor to make traffic control easier.

The White Restaurant, which is famous for popularising the white beehoon dish, will resume dining-in at all its six outlets, including at Jewel Changi Airport.

Owner Victor Tay said he is planning to implement E-queueing, as the eateries do not accept reservations, as well as QR-code ordering and payment, but these may not be ready by Friday.

Another casual eatery, Kam's Roast in Pacific Plaza and Jewel Changi Airport, said it too is all primed to seat customers again.

It will be removing about 40 per cent of its tables to meet social distancing rules. And its SafeEntry check-in and out for staff will be extended to diners.

But it foresees a problem, said operations manager Kenny Chee.

With takeaways and deliveries increasing by 40 per cent during the circuit breaker, its staff had to be redeployed to handle that.

As it is not expecting a drop in deliveries from Friday, it is looking for more manpower.

Chinese restaurant operator TungLok Group will open 18 of its 25 outlets for dine-in on Friday. These have been offering takeaways and deliveries during the past two months.

Four of its restaurants - TungLok Signatures in Clarke Quay Central and Changi City Point, LingZhi Vegetarian in Liat Towers, and Taste by TungLok in Park Regis Singapore - will reopen from July 1.

It also has three outlets in Resorts World Sentosa that will stay closed until the integrated resort restarts completely.

Its CEO Andrew Tjioe said many of the staff had been redeployed to its manufacturing and catering arms and cannot be moved back so quickly.

The group is also implementing e-menus that diners can access on their mobile phones and providing paper bags for them to keep their masks while eating, among other safety measures.

Some restaurants, however, were caught unawares by the Government's announcement on Monday evening that dining-in will resume on Friday.

Firebake, a Western restaurant and bakehouse in East Coast Road, said it is not ready to reopen as it is facing staff issues. It does not have an opening date yet.

Said founder Konstantino Blokbergen: "In the last two months, our Malaysian staff returned home and we are not likely to find the manpower required for dine-in this week.

"And it will be very difficult to manage both dine-in and delivery/takeaway. We need more time to determine how our new dine-in model will work."

Italian restaurant Buona Terra in Scotts Road said it will open only on June 25. It will use the extra time to shift its takeaway model back to dine-in and conduct a thorough disinfection of its premises.

The spokesman for the fine-dining restaurant said getting ingredients from its artisanal partners in Italy is a challenge too and it will need to restock its kitchen.

Cocktail bar and restaurant Lumo in South Bridge Road said it will open on June 22.

Owner Alex Chok said the eatery needed at least a week to revert back to dining-in. It also needs to fulfil the takeaway and delivery orders for this week.

Cocktail bar and restaurant Lumo in South Bridge Road said it will open on June 22, 2020. PHOTO: LUMO

Mr Chok said: "Our promotion for Father's Day runs until Sunday. We felt it will be unfair to our customers if we stop that."

Meanwhile, reservations have started coming in.

The ilLido Group, which runs a chain of Italian F&B outlets, received bookings the moment the news broke.

Owner Beppe de Vito said three restaurants Art, Amo and Braci are full for the weekend and the group is controlling the number of people in the restaurants to meet social distancing measures.

Ms Trina Liang is one of those with a reservation at Art on Friday. The finance professional, who is in her 40s, will be dining with her girl friends.

She said: "We have been meeting on Zoom (video conferencing app) every week and I miss seeing them in 3D.

"I had pre-booked the restaurant for the first day of phase 2, no matter what date it was. For us, Art is the standard for Italian fine-dining."

Dr Bem of LeVeL33 said the first bookings also came in within minutes of the announcement on Monday.

But he is worried that the enthusiasm may be short-lived.

He said: "People are yearning to go out again and meet friends. But the challenge will be the regular business during the week, as we are in the CBD area where remote working is still preferred.

"Also, landlords may consider 'open for dining-in' as a go-ahead to resume normal rent. That can drive many restaurants out of business."

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