Chinese Restaurant Struggles With No CNY Reunion Dinners During MCO

Author’s Blurb: Every Chinese New Year my family and I would go to our usual Chinese and Nyonya restaurants for our reunion dinners. Come to think of it, we never really dine there other than if it’s CNY or to celebrate my grandparents’ birthdays.

With only 2 guests allowed per table, these companies known to welcome large groups are experiencing serious difficulties.

Now forced to innovate in their CNY offerings, we managed to talk to Oriental Group and Hakka Restaurant to find out how they are adapting this MCO.

Up to 80% drop In sales

When the lockdown was first announced in 2020, Oriental Group quickly adapted to digital. They have developed their own delivery platform which functions as an order, payment and delivery center. In addition, all of their 14 points of sale are also on GrabFood.

Despite this, the group told Vulcan Post that even before the AGC began, they had already seen a significant reduction in their income since CNY 2020. This was compared to 2019 figures.

“In 2019, CNY sales (which lasted for 30 days) contributed about 19% of our annual revenue. It included reunion crowds for annual dinners at festive and social events, ”said Lyn, who is in the group’s marketing and public relations department.

The same could be said of the 6-decade-old Hakka restaurant. Located in the heart of KL’s Golden Triangle, the restaurant could accommodate hundreds of diners at a time before the pandemic.

Hakka Restaurant could accommodate 400 people inside their restaurant and 300 outside pre-social distancing / Image credit: Hakka Restaurant

Its third-generation owner and manager, Danny Chong, told Vulcan Post that the lockdowns and lack of tourists had greatly affected the business.

With restrictions on the number of people per table, many have chosen not to dine in our restaurants, especially since Chinese cuisine is best enjoyed in groups at a round table to feast on a wide variety of dishes.

Danny Chong, owner and manager of the Hakka restaurant.

Being a small business compared to Oriental Group, offering deliveries through DeliverEats and take out through their social media was all they could do.

Even with the CNY packages this year, Hakka Restaurant still suffered an 80% drop in revenue as of February 11, 2021. This was juxtaposed with a single day of pre-MCO CNY reunion dinners, which contributed 1% of their revenue. annual totals.

Packaging of trays

Oriental Group decorated CNY dishes / Image credit: Oriental Group

But adjusting to take out and deliveries also correlates with the extra work of kitchen and reception staff.

Take-out operations require a different scope of work, as much attention and care must be paid to the handling and packaging of food. Then it comes down to logistics and making sure customers receive their orders in the best way possible.

“We had to market ourselves differently – that our cuisine be also take-out friendly, as our core business has always been meal-centric due to the nature of our varied menu,” said Lyn.

Therefore, Oriental Group has offered its CNY menus that can accommodate 2-10 people in a household. For those who live away from their families, they offer individual dim sum bento boxes (RM38 / RM88) and gift wrap as seasonal items.

For simplicity, they have a set that includes the classic Yee Sang, Radish cake and Nian gao which come in a branded heated bag (RM398).

They can serve between 2 and 10 people / Image credit: Oriental Group

Hakka restaurant has set up 4 CNY packages including 4 to 5 courses. They feature traditional festive dishes to feed 4-8 people, ranging from RM168 to RM538.

Chinese Cuisine offers one of the most comprehensive menus in the F&B industry with unique service standards. Under the inevitable circumstances of the pandemic, teams had to be versatile in performing new tasks in order to optimize the standards to take home.

Meticulous training, education and R&D were employed among kitchen teams and in front of homes, all to ensure that their new normal always matched the quality of their catering services.

Hakka Restaurant dishes from their menus / Image credit: Hakka Restaurant

However, what Chinese restaurants might struggle with is convincing Malaysians to buy their CNY packages in the first place. For some families (including mine), the most profitable approach is DIY.

For example, you can buy pre-packaged Yee Sang cans for less than RM40 as a base and add your own protein like salmon. This can already feed up to 10 people.

When it comes to the traditional Poon Choy, there are also affordable canned abalone and mushrooms sold in grocery stores.

Of course, not everyone is willing to make the effort to throw a family party. This is where CNY restaurant packages would come in handy for a quick and stress-free home reunion dinner.

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Oriental Group and Hakka Restaurant are just 2 of the many Chinese restaurants struggling with this CNY. Those of us who can afford to support local F&B restaurants may consider doing so, to ensure our favorite spots stay open for next year’s CNY reunion dinners and more.

By then, at Vulcan Post, we hope the pandemic will be a thing of the past as well.

Lyn concluded: “No industry is spared from this pandemic and there is no predictable timeframe for its end – every business is fighting for the survival and for the livelihoods of those on their payrolls. . Unity is the key to economic survival. ”

Conclusion: While 2-seat dinners are allowed again, it will be a long time before the restaurant industry recovers and hits its pre-pandemic figures again. With The WFH helps us cut costs in food and other services, we can periodically provide support to our local businesses, regardless of industry.

  • You can read more about Oriental Group here, and Hakka Restaurant here.
  • You can check out other topics related to MCO here.

Featured Image Credit: Oriental Group / Hakka Restaurant

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Jothi Venkat

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