Owners of the two Pow Sing eateries, which reopened yesterday after a month-long suspension for lapses which had led to scores of patrons getting food poisoning, said their recent ordeal had been a "wake-up call" to maintain good hygiene.
Mr Lee Chin Soo, one of the two directors of Pow Sing Group, said: "As bosses, sometimes we may neglect supervising our workers and they, in turn, can slip up in their work as well. This suspension has been a good thing. All our staff are working together to maintain higher standards now."
The Pow Sing Group's establishments - Pow Sing Restaurant and Pow Sing Kitchen - were given the green light to resume operations on Wednesday after they had their licences suspended on July 13 and 16 respectively.
Investigations by the Ministry of Health, National Environment Agency and Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority linked 88 cases of food poisoning to the two eateries and confirmed that several hygiene lapses in the food preparation process were found.
Yesterday, patrons showed their confidence in the restaurants by voting with their feet and beating a steady path to both places during lunchtime. Many said they were aware of the closures but had missed the signature chicken rice.
Some of them are long-time regulars like Mr Kwek Theng Swee, a 70-year-old businessman, also in the food and beverage industry, who said: "I have been a customer for a long time and I have confidence in them. In fact, I think this incident is a good reminder to them and other food operators as well to keep reviewing their processes."
A 67-year-old mathematics teacher, Mr Tham Choon Choi, who was with his colleagues, said: "What is there to worry about? This is a very established place. The lapses could be because they were just too busy and slipped up."
Design consultant Nicole Sng, 50, was pleasantly surprised to see the two Pow Sing outlets back in business when she walked past the Serangoon Gardens eateries.
She said: "My husband and I will definitely come back now that they're open again because their chicken rice is very good!"
Despite the strong endorsement from regular patrons, business was still 25 to 30 per cent less than before they were closed, said the directors. But the company will refrain from promotions to draw customers for now.
Pow Sing Group's other director, Mr Steven Tan, said: "Right now, our priority is quality control. Before we do promotions to attract customers, we want to do our part well and make sure we eliminate any bad behaviour on our end of the equation."