Good news is scarce these days in Singapore's food-and-beverage scene.
Restaurants have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, and many are empty at meal times, as Singapore hunkers down at home.
Two surveys, which came out in the past week, tell of restaurants hitting rock bottom.
The latest, by #savefnbsg, a coalition of more than 500 restaurants here started by restaurateurs Loh Lik Peng of the Unlisted Collection and Beppe de Vito of the ilLido Group, shows that 88 per cent of restaurants here might have to close in the next 30 days, despite government aid, if the situation does not improve.
There are 12,000 restaurants in Singapore and they employ 200,000 people.
Already, six in 10 restaurant operators have had to let go of employees because of financial woes. More than 81 per cent of those surveyed say they will have to lay off more staff "in the immediate future".
Statistics from a survey of 249 restaurants by restaurant reservations platform Chope show that a third of those surveyed have asked full-time staff to take compulsory leave, and 78 per cent will not last longer than six months if things do not get better.
Business is down by between 50 and 80 per cent, according to estimates by the Restaurant Association of Singapore, which says that profit margins in normal times are 1 to 1.5 per cent.
There were some bright spots in F&B – a handful of restaurants and cafes that were doing well. That was before last Friday's announcement by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of more stringent safedistancing rules.
Restaurants cannot have dine-in customers for a month starting from Tuesday, and can offer only takeaways or deliveries.
Whatever advantage they had is gone now, for at least a month. Some are scrambling to work out takeout menus for customers who can no longer eat on their premises.
Ms Daphne Goh owns four cafes – Atlas Coffeehouse in Duke's Road, Columbus Coffee in Upper Thomson Road, Apollo Coffee Bar in Serangoon Garden Way and Lunar Coffee Brewers in OUE Downtown Gallery, the first three in residential areas.
She says: "Before the implementation of the social-distancing rule, we actually experienced a spike and were pleasantly surprised by the support from the community.
"It helps that we are situated in neighbourhoods and have many regular customers living nearby. With many working from home, it is much easier and more convenient for them to patronise our shops throughout the week."
Torasho, a ramen and izakaya restaurant in Tras Street, was also doing well.
Co-owner Tora Widjaja says he is now looking at what dishes he can offer for takeaways.
His restaurant was busy at lunch on weekdays with office workers coming in, and busier at dinner on weekends, when families and groups of friends would turn up.
He thinks that friendly pricing is what attracts diners. A bowl of tonkotsu ramen costs $12, at least $2 cheaper than some ramen-ya.
Neighbourhood French restaurant Summer Hill, in Sunset Way, also had a bump in business.
Owner Anthony Yeoh says: "Business is up a little as we're in a neighbourhood. This surprised me as I was preparing for the worst. We just got really lucky with our location and have regulars who want to support us."
Most of the seating for the restaurant is outdoors, and the new surge in customers going to the restaurant were those who work from home. They went for lunch at the restaurant, which serves homey food such as roast chicken and beef bourguignon.
With the pivot to takeaways, he is now looking to create a kid-friendly menu of pasta that parents can order to go.
A large outdoor seating area also proved to be the saving grace for Artichoke, a Middle Eastern restaurant in Middle Road.
Owner Bjorn Shen says that using the area more fully than before had made it possible for him to comply with the new social-distancing rules without losing too many seats. The capacity is now 80, down from 100 before. Still, he says, business has fallen by 50 per cent.
Chef Shen says he will be offering takeaway food, and free delivery to designated pick-up points across Singapore.
To further reassure guests, FOC in Sentosa, a Mediterranean-style beach club, leased a thermal scanner, which it placed at the entrance.
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