Former craft beer bar Good Luck came up with an entirely new food concept two weeks ago, after the authorities said its previous concept was too "bar-like".
Formerly known as Good Luck Beerhouse, the five-year-old venue in Haji Lane now sells handmade noodles, alongside items it has always had on its menu, such as dim sum and burgers.
"All along, we've been known as a local craft beer place, so that's what we market exclusively, with the intent to promote their consumption... but the authorities told us that 'this is promotion of beer, your venue is licensed for restaurant use, but this looks to us like a bar, so it doesn't fall within our guidelines'," said its director Kevin Ngan.
"It doesn't help that we had to pivot and change our concept to survive, especially because business has been down dramatically since the dining-in capacity limits were reduced to two people, and the street is not as vibrant as it was before," he added.
He spoke to The Straits Times before dining-in curbs were relaxed on Saturday, allowing vaccinated groups of up to five people who need not be from the same household to dine at restaurants from today.
Good Luck is among several venues in heritage districts that have had to modify their business to meet Covid-19 guidelines. Others include Sago House in Chinatown and Jekyll & Hyde in Tanjong Pagar.
Craft beer bar and restaurant Heart of Darkness in Keong Saik Road was also told that it could no longer promote alcohol on its social media platforms.
The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has clarified that food and beverage premises approved for restaurant use must primarily serve food, and any sale of alcohol must be incidental to the consumption of food.
"In evaluating whether any premises approved for restaurant use have materially changed to that of a bar or pub, we consider a spectrum of factors such as their food offerings, adequacy of spaces for preparation and consumption of food, and whether the premises are marketed as or give the perception that they are a place primarily for alcohol consumption," said a URA spokesman.
The authority has also not allowed new bars, pubs, nightclubs and karaoke lounges in historic districts such as Chinatown, Little India and Kampong Glam since 2009, "as the continued growth of these uses potentially... erode the character of these areas".
"Premises approved before 2009 for bar, pub, nightclub and karaoke lounge uses are allowed to continue their operations if they have valid licences, subject to future reviews based on the broader planning intention of the area and impact of these uses on the environment," added the spokesman.
Mr Ngan is taking the changes in his stride. "We're looking at this as an opportunity, and making sure that the new concept is food-driven," he said, adding that Good Luck Beerhouse as a brand will be retired.
But even as he noted that "we can't argue with the guidelines", he said "it makes me worry for the industry."