World Cup season a blessing for eateries

Restaurant operators saw better responses in terms of profits and number of visitors in 1 month of the World Cup period

by NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK / pic by AFIF ABD HALIM

France may have emerged as the champion for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, but in some parts of Malaysia, eateries — particularly mamak or Indian Muslim restaurants — were the bigger winners during the competitive period.

The restaurants would attract many local football fans to catch the football matches — usually shown on the makeshift big screen — up until five in the morning.

NZ Curry House Sdn Bhd CEO Muhamad Noor Zainal Muhamad Zabidi said its branches would see full house nights during the season, alongside other sports competitions.

“It is especially so during sports competitions that are held internationally where they cannot go (to watch the match) that they flock to mamak restaurants,” he said.

Muhamad Noor Zainal noted that the number of restaurant visitors is higher in the World Cup season compared to the SEA Games and even during the English Premier League season.

Muhamad Noor Zainal said the restaurant did not offer special menus or receive any distinctive orders during the World Cup fever,

but his restaurant had continuously replenished its specialty kari kepala ikan (fish head curry).

“A lot of people come and eat our nasi kandar with the specialty lauk, so we’ll try to keep up with the crowds despite not having any special seasonal menu to celebrate the football season,” he said.

Another operator, Ashraf Ariff — whose restaurant Ali B is a household name in Setiawangsa, Kuala Lumpur — saw better responses in terms of profits and number of visitors in one month of the World Cup period.

“The responses are generally better than the usual. Although I have my regulars, it is during the World Cup where I can get newcomers, who usually will bring along friends to watch the matches together,” he said.

Ashraf joked that there were times where he wished for the matches to not drag for extra time, but noted, “The people will stay, and continue to order at least drinks throughout (the match).”

As for a football enthusiast, who prefers to be known as Bartholomew, he said regardless of the size of the mamak outlet, the location is the most important factor to watch the game.

“Take the last time I watched football at the mamak, it was with my friends and we settled for a corner lot mamak because of how accessible (it was) from the university I’m studying at. It wasn’t a big name, but because of the match, the place witnessed a full house,” he said.

“It’s just me with my friends, and other people with their friends, which added to the unified atmosphere we have over teh tarik,” he added.

Meanwhile, with regard to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) being zero-rated, he said it feels like he has been spending the same amount of money as when it was charged 6%.

On the other hand, Muhamad Noor Zainal said all of NZ Curry House’s outlets have returned to the price prior to the tax exercise, but will amend its prices as needed when the Sales and Services Tax (SST) returns in September.

The government expects to save RM23 billion yearly with the sales tax expected to be reintroduced at 10% and the services charge at 6%.

“As for SST, it depends heavily on how the government plans to implement it because we need to make profits and be able to proceed with our business as usual,” he said.

For Ashraf, he hopes the reinstatement of SST would be pretty much the same just like it was prior to the GST implementation in April 2015.

“I hope it will be the same. The restaurants with sales below RM3 million annually are not required to pay SST,” he said.