Pandemic claims more F&B victims

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Spanish restaurant Don Quijote (above) is moving from Dempsey Hill to the 7th Mile Coffee Shop in Bukit Timah.

Pandemic claims more F&B victims

Violet Oon Singapore at Bukit Timah (above) has closed as the restaurant group has decided not to renew the lease for that outlet.

The Covid-19 pandemic has claimed another slew of casualties in the food and beverage (F&B) industry.

Of the five Violet Oon restaurants, only three started operating again after dine-in resumed on June 19 during phase two of the economy’s reopening.

Violet Oon Singapore at Bukit Timah and Violet Oon Satay Bar & Grill at Clarke Quay have remained closed. The outlet at Bukit Timah opened in 2012 and is the group’s oldest restaurant. It specialises in Peranakan dishes. The satay bar opened in 2017 and is popular for its charcoal grills.

The three that have reopened are Violet Oon Singapore outlets in Ion Orchard and Jewel Changi Airport, and National Kitchen By Violet Oon Singapore at the National Gallery Singapore. They offer Singapore heritage food from Peranakan, Eurasian, Indian, Malay and Chinese cuisines.

The restaurant group is owned by food doyenne Violet Oon, her children Tay Yiming and Tay Su-Lyn, and business partner Manoj Murjani.

Mr Murjani, who is the chief executive officer, told The Sunday Times: “Given the current challenging environment and the uncertainties of the future, we felt it was best to consolidate in three locations spread across Singapore. As our lease was up for renewal at Bukit Timah, we decided to not renew. For Clarke Quay, we remain undecided and are monitoring the situation.”

Another restaurant that is not renewing its lease is Inspirit House which opened at The Punggol Settlement three years ago. It closes its doors today. The family-style restaurant offers Western and Asian dishes such as BBQ ribs and Nonya sea bass.

It announced its final day on its Facebook page last month and is selling off its furniture and other items through Facebook Live this weekend.

Another casualty is The Pelican, an upmarket Western seafood restaurant at One Fullerton, which closed down on June 30 after eight years. Known for its seafood platters and snapper pie, it had a popular outdoor alfresco area on the Marina Bay waterfront.

Meanwhile, Spanish restaurant Don Quijote is saying goodbye today to Dempsey Hill, its home for the past 10 years. It will reopen next Sunday at the 7th Mile Coffee Shop in Bukit Timah.

Owner Ken Lim says the new premises are smaller and there is no air-conditioning, but the rental is 75 per cent lower. He adds: “I did my calculations on whether I should continue at Dempsey and just didn’t think I could afford it.”





The restaurant will take over the space vacated by 7th Mile Seafood, a zichar eatery also owned by Mr Lim, which closed down in April. It seats up to 90, compared with 170 in Dempsey where there are private rooms and an alfresco dining area.

The menu will be about 30 per cent smaller. But popular dishes such as squid ink paella and grilled items like tomahawk and barramundi will remain.

There will also be more barbecued fare, says Mr Lim, because the coffee shop kitchen can accommodate a bigger binchotan grill.

Diners who miss the old dishes can still preorder them. Mr Lim says he is not lowering prices because the food quality will remain the same. But he adds: “Everything is a little bit fluid because we don’t know how long the pandemic will last.”



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