Tough time for ‘Mamak’ restaurants

Since the enforcement of MCO 2.0, Presma members only rake in a maximum of 25%-30% of the normal sales

by HARIZAH KAMEL / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

LOCAL restaurant operators or better known as “Mamak” restaurants saw their sales decline significantly since the implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO) 2.0.

Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association (Presma) president Datuk Jawahar Ali Taib Khan told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) that its members are recording a maximum of 30% sales only, a far less figure than what they used to make last month.

“Since the reinstatement of the MCO, our members said they can only do a maximum of around 25%-30% of normal sales. This is affecting their income as we speak,” he said in a recent interview.

Presma has more than 4,200 members comprising restaurant owners in the six states which were initially placed under the MCO 2.0.

He reiterated that Presma has sent an appeal to the government to provide certain flexibility for restaurants and food service providers to operate in compliance with the standard operating procedures (SOPs) as before.

“This includes limiting the number of customers to two people per table which is based on the experience of the first MCO, which proved to be effective in curbing Covid-19 and helping restaurant operators.

“We hope that some flexibility is given. Apart from that, Presma also requested an extension in operating hours from 6am to 10pm instead of 8pm, so that people can get food at night,” he said.

It was announced yesterday that the government had agreed to extend the operating hours for restaurants and eateries to 10pm. The government had initially allowed for food businesses to operate until 8pm during the MCO.

Meanwhile, Ali Bistro owner Ashraf Ariff told TMR on the first day of MCO 2.0, his sales were less than 10% of what the usual sales (pre-Covid-19) were and that the situation is likely to continue throughout this time.

“This drastic drop has also got to do with the fact that street vendors are allowed to operate. People have many options now.

“Frankly speaking, I don’t think I can survive these two weeks of MCO. Payments have been issued to suppliers via post dated cheques. I don’t know how I am going to cover it,” he said.

He said businesses might improve a little if the government can consider allowing dine in with two pax per table.

“We understand why they’re doing what they’re doing now, but it’s almost impossible for a small entrepreneur like me to survive,” he told TMR.

Ashraf said when the first MCO started in March 2020, the scale was so unprecedented that for the first couple of weeks business was practically zero.

“Things were getting better as time went by and right before MCO 2.0, I managed to get my sales back up to 50%-60% of what it used to be pre-Covid-19.

“It wasn’t enough, I had to fork out my savings and whatever cash we had in hand to keep the business going,” he said.

He also hopes that the government can reinstate the loan moratorium or find ways to help businesses like him to get through this trying time.

“Otherwise, I will be left with no choice but to close shop. If there is data to support that there are plenty of cases due to infections in restaurants, I will gladly accept their decision. Most cases happen in offices, construction sites and factories, so I don’t understand why they’re doing this to us,” he added.

Last Friday, TMR reported that Sime Darby Convention Centre (SDCC) has permanently closed its dine-in outlets after 14 years of operation.

SDCC said in a notice that the closures involved Halia, East Café and China Treasures outlets.

“The ongoing global health crisis has impacted many lives and livelihood, and the SDCC is no exception.

“We are incredibly grateful to our loyal customers and would like to thank you for your patronage all these years,” the company added.