Malaysians are used to the new normal, many prefer deliveries to avert stepping outside for dining altogether
by AZALEA AZUAR/ pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
NO MATTER how bad the economy is, everyone would agree that the food business will remain the most viable.
Everyone needs to eat, and during the gloomy days of the Movement Control Order (MCO) those in the food business — from preparation right to delivery — are considered the real heroes who are part of the nation’s essential services.
Throughout the initial phase of the MCO, food delivery heroes were the “warriors” who worked their hardest to meet everyone’s demand, rain or shine.
Now that we are in the Recovery MCO phase, the food and beverage (F&B) industry remains an essential service, and since Malaysians are used to the “new normal”, many prefer deliveries to avert stepping outside for dining altogether.
Still, the F&B industry — especially smaller businesses — is still facing manpower shortage.
Current Challenges and Beyond
Coley Cocktail Bar owner and bartender Kho Chee Kheong was not really prepared for the challenges that were presented during the MCO, despite his years in the business.
Kho is still confused if bars and similar outlets are considered essential services.
However, the bartender still remains positive as he believes there would be new opportunities once this pandemic is over.
On the other hand, newly-opened cafe Underscore Coffee owner E Yern Shum thinks delivery services are unsustainable for small cafes like his.
The number of food delivery riders is still low, while the commission rates are high which leaves little for the cafe and bar owners who are not comfortable in increasing prices for their items.
Luckily for E Yern, 80% of Underscore Coffee’s customers are regulars. However, although most of the regulars did buy their coffee during the first few days of MCO, the number has drastically decreased since.
Taking Orders and Phone Numbers
Despite all the precautionary measures, the economy still needed to be rebooted to offset the RM2.4 billion daily losses that were suffered during the initial phase of the MCO.
The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) president Tan Sri Soh Thian Lai strongly supported the government’s decision to cautiously reopen the economy.
However, he said it was important that business operations in every state resumed concurrently as there are inter-linkages between states.
Not only would there be major disruptions in the supply chain of goods and services, but the livelihood of the citizens would be affected if certain areas stopped working.
FMM had said state governments should cooperate with the federal government to restart the economy while balancing between public health and economic sustainability.
Since the easing of the MCO, customers are now allowed to dine-in, as long as F&B operators adhere to the standard operating procedures and guidelines.
All shops are now required to record names, phone numbers and visiting dates of the customers while maintaining social distancing.
To ease these operators in registering customer details, local customer relationship management company Mulah created a Covid-19 Customer Walk-In Registry System.
Within the first 24 hours of the system launch, 250 outlets and almost 100 brands signed up, including eateries like Go Noodle House, Tai Thong Group, Nippon Sushi Group, Penang Chendul, Paradise Group, Vivo Pizza and Purple Cane Restaurants.
A Meal for a Meal
Understanding the problems that home-based F&B businesses are going through during the MCO, new community service initiative Meals For Meals was launched to offer Malaysians the opportunity to support these independent business owners and this in return will provide meals for refugees in need.
Meals for Meals founder Aida Azrin said in a press release that the concept for the initiative is to bring together Malaysians’ love for food and passion for championing good causes.
Simple activities such as enjoying a meal can be rewarding, as well as carry a greater meaning which is sharing and spreading joy to others in a time of need.
“In today’s new normal of social distancing, staying at home does not hinder one from being able to give back to society and improve lives of not only the disadvantaged communities but also small, local businesses as they reopen, revisit their business approach and find their footing during these uncertain times,” said Aida.
The meals that customers have purchased will not only enable them to actively support local businesses but also bring a positive impact to underprivileged communities.
Meals for Meals will pledge one meal to refugees in need, for every two meals sold from the featured business of the day.
Customers are also given the option to purchase meals to be donated directly to refugee homes and schools.
Organisations that will benefit from the Meals for Meals initiative are Mon Refugee Education Centre and Destiny Welfare Centre.
Both these organisations empower children with resources, tools and opportunities to improve their livelihood and enable sustainable, positive change in their community.