SINGAPORE - Restaurants have been busy reconfiguring their layouts ahead of the relaxation of dining capacity from Tuesday (March 29).
This is to accommodate up to 10 fully vaccinated people dining together, one of the changes announced last Thursday in line with the easing of Covid-19 rules.
Since then, food and beverage (F&B) operators have had to act swiftly - from adding manpower to ordering more ingredients.
At hotpot restaurant Mrs Pho House in Takashimaya Shopping Centre, workers were busy adjusting seating to accommodate bigger groups on Monday.
The restaurant can seat only 32 diners, so changing the seating arrangement does not mean accommodating more diners.
But Mr Brian Chua, 40, chief executive of F&B company Gourmet Food Holdings which runs Mrs Pho House, expects average spending to increase with bigger groups dining in.
He said: "It is positive news, but we are still hoping for the ease of the 1m (social) distancing, to maximise the seating capacity."
He will launch set menus for larger groups and has no plans to slow down deliveries.
He added: "We are still going to push hard on our hotpot deliveries to cater to the house parties that we foresee will pick up as well."
Similarly at Italian restaurant Ristorante Pietrasanta at Fusionopolis, its chef-owner Loris Massimini said its capacity of up to 70 diners remains the same.
He said: "With bigger tables, we will have fewer tables and turnarounds. The interior of the restaurant is quite long and narrow, so to place a table of 10, three tables of four people have to be removed."
The restaurant can accommodate two tables of eight people indoors, and another two tables of 10 diners outdoors.
Some eateries are tweaking and planning menus to feed up to 10 diners.
One of them is roast meat specialist Kam's Roast Singapore at Jewel Changi Airport.
Its head chef Darren Cho, 31, is buying more ingredients and planning set menus to cater to groups of more than five people. Table arrangements will stay the same, he added, but with the option to join tables together for bigger groups.
Looking ahead, Crystal Jade Group's general manager Cynthia Yee is already updating set menus for Mother's and Father's Day to cater for six to 10 diners.
She said: "We had initially planned to launch individual set menus only, since dining groups were likely to be small.
"Our bigger private dining rooms can now be more efficiently utilised to accommodate up to 10 guests, rather than five before. This is just in time for the upcoming public holidays and long weekends."
The changes are in anticipation of reservations that usually come in a month before the special occasions, she added. The new set menus will be launched from April 27.
Meanwhile, many F&B operators are extending their operating hours, especially in the light of the 10.30pm drinks curfew being lifted.
These include gastro-bar Binary at Palais Renaissance, microbrewery-restaurant LeVeL33 at Marina Bay Financial Centre, and Japanese restaurant Kinki's rooftop bar at Customs House.
Mr Jerry Singh, chief executive of The Singapura Club in Little India, said the outlet will restart live music performances this weekend. He has already received bookings from his regulars and expects business to pick up.
A second Singapura Club outlet opens in May at Marina One, which Mr Singh said will gain an advantage from opening after the easing of rules.
He said: "We will see the benefits in months to come, not immediately. Once manpower quotas are eased, businesses can have some projection for the future. You can't have too many gung-ho plans until manpower is sorted.
"We have been surviving on half an oxygen tank. Now, there'll be a spare tank from tomorrow."