COVID-19 SPECIAL

With McDonald's shut, fast-food chains see spike in orders

Customers at the KFC outlet at Tiong Bahru Plaza during lunchtime last Monday, a day after McDonald’s shut all its outlets temporarily.
Customers at the KFC outlet at Tiong Bahru Plaza during lunchtime last Monday, a day after McDonald’s shut all its outlets temporarily. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

With the temporary shutdown of all McDonald's branches last Sunday, other popular chains have seen a surge in diners who need their fast-food fix.

KFC Singapore, as well as Burger King and sandwich restaurant franchise Subway, have all seen a spike in takeaway and delivery orders.

Burger King would not reveal figures, but its spokesman said it is seeing a "significantly higher than usual" volume of delivery orders.

"With this sudden surge, the waiting time for orders has increased," she said, adding that the burger chain is now working with its delivery partners to manage orders during peak hours to reduce waiting time.

Subway Singapore's delivery orders have more than doubled from before the coronavirus pandemic, says Mr Samad Shariff, 53, its country director.

This is mainly from customers ordering its sandwiches through food delivery platforms such as GrabFood, Foodpanda and Deliveroo.

The pile-up of orders has come as many fast-food chains streamline operations, close branches and adjust opening hours.

For example, some Burger King outlets - mainly in the airport and city area such as Marina Square and VivoCity - have closed.

According to its website, South Korean fried chicken chain 4Fingers has closed its Marina Square, Plaza Singapura and Orchard Gateway outlets. Similarly, 19 Subway restaurants, located in Changi Airport as well as universities and schools, have been shuttered.

 
 
 

Following news that seven McDonald's staff - a mix of restaurant managers and crew - infected with Covid-19 had been deployed across nine different outlets, other fastfood chains here have taken heed.

Three fast-food giants interviewed by The Sunday Times emphasise that their employees are not deployed to work across various outlets.

To safeguard staff and customers, they have also enforced contact-less takeaways and deliveries, along with stringent safe distancing measures and hygiene procedures.

In addition, KFC Singapore's general manager Lynette Lee highlights that its older customer-facing staff, who are considered the "at-risk group" for Covid-19, have been reassigned to do "lighter work" in the kitchen.

With business still brisk and showing no signs of slowing down, some chains are even dishing out new products during this circuit breaker.

 
 

The Pizza Hut chain will launch new pizza flavours on Wednesday, available till July 29. The Laksalicious Pizza includes prawns, clams, mozzarella and laksa sauce; while its Sambalicious Sardine Pizza comprises sardine chunks and housemade sambal.

Looking ahead, the spokesman for Burger King says the chain is still hiring Singaporeans, "to be ready for the recovery" when dining in resumes. There are also plans to open more stores "as soon as the situation allows".

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 26, 2020, with the headline 'With McDonald's shut, fast-food chains see spike in orders'. Subscribe