SINGAPORE - Shutdowns, salary cuts and staff departures - most food and beverage (F&B) businesses would have been all too familiar with these during the circuit breaker period.
At restaurant Wakanui Grill Dining, business plummeted almost overnight when the circuit breaker began on April 7. It was a huge challenge, said restaurant manager Raymond Santos, 36. "It affected the morale of the team greatly."
What has helped ease the blow, he said, are initiatives like Hi5SG, a nationwide dining campaign created to unite F&B operators and support business recovery during the pandemic.
Wakanui, along with its sister restaurants The Spot and Perch, all of which are owned by lifestyle and hospitality group 1855 F&B, are participants in Hi5SG.
First started in September, the non-profit campaign will run till next April.
It aims to woo diners back to restaurants by encouraging participating businesses to roll out special dining experiences with the number five as a theme - $5 off the Signature Boston Lobster Coconut Laksa at Perch, for example, or a $55++ set menu at The Spot.
The number five alludes to the five-person dining rule that was put in place during phase 2 of Covid-19 measures, as well as Singapore's 55th birthday this year.
Hi5SG was conceived during the circuit breaker by Ms Lyla Lin, 33, and Ms Lynn Yeow-De Vito, 40, founders of boutique communications agency Loop PR, which specialises in F&B and hospitality.
Ms Lin, said: "We started to ask ourselves: How are F&B businesses going to recover from their losses suffered during the months of the circuit breaker?"
The duo are also community leaders in #savefnbsg, a coalition of more than 500 restaurants that banded together during the circuit breaker to support each other by sharing information and resources.
They did not expect Hi5SG to gain traction in the way that it has. "Initially, we thought of sharing our idea with five restaurant groups and getting them to come together for five months," said Ms Lin.
Hi5SG has since grown to include around 150 restaurants, with most committing to the initiative for three to four months.
Every month, an average of 50 restaurants come on board the programme.
The initiative, which is supported by Enterprise Singapore and the Singapore Tourism Board, also aims to give back to the community.
Part of the proceeds from the Hi5SG dining experiences - ranging from $1 to $5 - will be donated to =Dreams, an educational programme for underprivileged children who stay in a =Dreams facility during the school week and return home on weekends and school holidays.
Hi5SG aims to raise $300,000 for =Dreams, which is the sister organisation of South Central Community Family Service Centre.
Ms Yeow-De Vito, who is also on =Dreams' charity board, said: "We believe that it is vital to step up efforts to give people a better chance of having a fulfilling life with education."
To find out more, visit Hi5SG's website.