Food outlets adapting under restricted movement order

File photo for illustration purposes

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By Geryl Ogilvy

KUCHING, Mar 19: While many eateries were anxious about the loss in income amid the restricted movement order, there are those that remained open due to social obligation to their community.

Lotus Cafe at Seng Goon, one of the many food outlets that are still operating under the take-away or deliveries-only restriction, is prioritising the need to provide for the people over financial matters.

Coffeeshop operator Teo said that it was still business as usual for the outlet despite suffering some 40 per cent decline in customers.

Their operation, which also involved a fast food stall at the premise, sees the kitchen preparing the same volume and variety of food amid the loss in customers.

“While logic sees that eateries are continuing to make money by opening, we also risk food wastage if we don’t have enough customers for the day.

“We have to prepare our fast food menu as usual, as we don’t want to keep our customers waiting when they order for take away. Especially lunch time, we want to avoid a crowd waiting in line.

“It is not about making extra income but more of a social obligation and responsibility to the customers,” he said.

He added that they don’t mind incurring extra cost in food preparation and operating the business amid the drop in customers because they have regular customers who don’t cook at home due to various reasons.

“We have those who are busy with work and seldom cook, as well as workers and hard labourers on daily wages, who would prefer to buy food from our economy stall everyday, rather than buy groceries to cook at home.

“These are among the factors that we decide to open as usual, except Sundays,” he continued.

Teo operates the shop with his wife Mary Chin, who set up the business eight years ago. Following Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s announcement of the country’s Restricted Movement Order, Lotus Cafe cut short its operation from 7am to 3pm.

Rodney Ng, a staff of a restaurant located at Brighton Square, said all the food outlets in the area were using the “drive-through” concept to encourage customers to order their food for take away.

“Everybody is putting up signs, encouraging customers to make pick-ups, as they adhere to government orders to bar people from dining-in. The customers can call the restaurant to order or use food delivery app such as Food Panda and Grab Food among others,” he added.

Nearby foot outlets such as ‘Once Upon a Cafe’ and ‘Life Cafe’ have put up signs, where customers can call the eateries to place their orders before pick-up.

Andy Gani, who operates a western food outlet in Stampin, said his business experienced an increase in orders through the food delivery mobile app.

However, despite suffering a drop in overall customers since the ban on dining-in, the cook believed that business must continue, as food is something essential and should be available to the public.

“We don’t prepare as much to cut cost but we should be ready regardless. There’s always somebody looking for food,” said Andy, who spoke from behind the restaurant shutters to maintain social distance.

Lim, a coffee shop owner in Batu Kawah, said he only opened his premise between 5am and 2pm, as means to cut operational cost and discourage the public to hang out at the coffee shop during tea time.

“We open early for those who are working and we cater for lunch. We close shop by 2pm instead of our normal business hours till 7pm.

“This unfortunately, to discourage customers who would dine at our shop for buns, banana fritters and other kuih-muih during tea time,” he said, while closing shop.

Muhyiddin announced the restricted order on Monday night (March 16) to prevent further spread of Covid-19. Malaysians are barred from travelling overseas for two weeks, while visitors are not allowed to enter the country.

Schools and non-essential businesses are also closed.

Yesterday, Muhyiddin said the government may extend the restricted movement order by “another two weeks or longer” if the current measures fail to contain the spread of Covid-19.

He urged Malaysians to just stay at home during the two-week control order enforced from Wednesday until March 31, to break the chain of infection.—DayakDaily