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How to support Singapore's restaurants and bars during COVID-19

Every bite counts towards keeping a local business afloat during these trying times

PS.Cafe Great World
Photograph: PS.Cafe PS.Cafe at Great World
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With more and more people choosing to stay in, F&B operators in Singapore have been experiencing a drastic drop in business. "The severe drop in tourists and corporate events has impacted us for sure," says Han Li Guang, the chef and owner of Labyrinth. "All in all, I would say that sales are down 30 to 40 percent."

This rings true for most restaurants and bars in the city. "The energy and atmosphere in this environment of uncertainty have certainly been muted," shares Rohit Roopchand, co-founder of The Dandy Collection. And while social distancing is important, it doesn't mean that we can't lend support to our favourite restaurants, cafés, bars, and hawkers during these trying times. Here are some easy yet responsible ways that we all can continue to sustain the F&B scene in Singapore.

Here at Time Out Singapore, we want to do our part for the community too. Know of a local business in need? Reach out to us at contact.tosg@timeout.com and we'll list the venue or event for free on our site.

Interior of Picnic Food Park's Beer Garden
Photograph: Picnic Food Park

Eat out (but only if you can)

Feeling unwell? Stay home and keep healthy. Feeling fine? Let's try to live life as normally as possible (i.e. stop panic buying!). Francesca Scarpa from the Da Paolo Group sums it up best: "Dine out, but of course, always be socially responsible! As restaurant operators, we remain vigilant and continue to ensure that our venues are safe and clean."

Most restaurants and food operators have stepped up cleaning measures. At Picnic Food Park, extra preventive steps have been put in place, including disinfecting the dining and play area at least twice a day and wiping tables down with disinfectant after every group of guests. “Where possible, we also try to seat customers at least one table apart,“ shares the restaurant’s founder Cheng Hsin Yao.

Others, like Shake Shack, have set up temperature-taking stations at the entrance of the restaurant, while venues like Le Shrimp Ramen, are providing hand sanitiser and anti-bacterial wipes, free of charge, to help you enjoy a meal in peace. As a diner, remember to do your part:

– Wash your hands before and after meals
– Head out only if you’re feeling well
– Refrain from sharing the same utensils or drinking from the same cup as your dining companions
– Avoid leaving your used tissues for the waitstaff to clear

Line of people queueing for food
Photograph: Michał Parzuchowski/ Unsplash

Be patient

"We are taking all the necessary precautions to safeguard the patrons' health and well-being," says Fat Prince's general manager Callan Mauger.

If you choose to dine out, know that some restaurants might take a little more time to get you seated as cleaning procedures have been ramped up.

Certain restaurants have started implementing social distancing measures, removing tables and spacing them further apart – which means fewer available seats. But hey, on the bright side, you can take the time to wash your hands to the full duration of two Happy Birthday songs while waiting.

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waving hello
Photograph: Ioana Cristiana/ Unsplash

Be flexible

Consider grabbing a bite, or drink, at odd timings to escape the crowd. As Ivy Woo, co-founder of the Singapore Cocktail Festival shares, "Instead of cutting out your visits completely, consider going in for an early drink instead." 

It's good to note that social gatherings can still remain fun while you drink responsibly! For one, you can limit your intake and be aware of your limits. "You want to be coherent enough to excuse yourself from an incoming hug or a handshake if you run into anyone at the bar," says Ivy.

Time Out Singapore
Photograph: Time Out Singapore

Leave a review

"People can also leave notes online and offline to express their appreciation for establishments that remain open and safe for guests," says Dylan Ong, chef-owner of The Masses

And it's easy to do so, without even the need to head out of your house. A lovely review can help raise awareness for the restaurant while giving the team a boost in morale.

This applies to the hawkers you love as well – send love their way by posting about them on social media. Tag us @timeoutsg and we'll share them on our page too.

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Takeaway sign
Photograph: Clem Onojeghuo/ Unsplash

Have your meals to-go

We understand that not everyone’s comfortable being in crowded, public spaces. But you can still enjoy a meal from your favourite eateries with a meal to-go. For instance, Meatsmith, Spize, and vegetarian eatery D'life offer both pick-up and delivery options. And as you already know, all our lovely hawkers offer the option to takeaway – be sure to bring your own container to do your bit for the environment too!

Paper mini takeout box
Photograph: Kelly Sikkema/ Unsplash

Or have your meals delivered

"If you prefer to stay in, you can still support your favourite restaurants by ordering from them on food delivery platforms," shares Francesca from the Da Paolo Group.

Most restaurants offer a delivery option – either from the store itself or through delivery platforms. Places like Komala's and Boon Tong Kee serve piping hot meals straight to your door. Looking for a healthier option? Place an order with The Boneless Kitchen.

Ordering meals via delivery sites from your favourite eatery can help play a part, too. In light of the situation, Deliveroo has rolled out a contact-free delivery option. Now, when collecting your food, you can choose to pick up your order from a thermal bag while the delivery rider remains at least a metre away.

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Preludio
Photograph: Preludio

Buy gift vouchers

Most vouchers won’t expire in the near future, which means you can still enjoy the food at a later date when the situation improves. And as a bonus, the money spent on vouchers goes directly to the restaurant, which allows them to tide through this tough period for a little longer.

Some of these places include: 

– COMO Dempsey restaurants, which include local Peranakan restaurant Candlenut
– Da Paolo
– Locaba
– PS.Cafe
Preludio (enjoy an eight-course menu for the price of the six-course menu) 
– The Social Space

Chef Han Li Guang and Diya Tan
Photograph: Han Li Guang

Support each other

While the food and beverage industry suffers, there are still those who look out for the needs of their fellow Singaporeans. Chef Li Guang from Labyrinth and his merry band of industry friends are raising funds to provide food and drinks for healthcare workers at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases with plans to expand this service to other hospitals.

"No matter how bad things are, we can always make a difference," says Li Guang. 

Those contributing to this cause include Jam at Siri House, Keng Eng Kee, Pezzo Group and Sanity Coffee. Labyrinth is also open to donations from the public to for NCID – drop them an email at info@labyrinth.com.sg for more information.
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Different hands together
Photograph: Hannah Busing/ Unsplash

Know of other ways that we, as a community, can help local businesses? Reach out and let us know at contact.tosg@timeout.com.

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