Singapore — Politician and café owner Dr Chee Soon Juan wrote in a Jun 29 Facebook post that he has a “newfound respect for F&B operators,” calling working in the industry “a gruelling endeavour with little margin for error.”
The longtime political leader and the secretary-general of the Singapore Democratic Party opened the café Orange & Teal with his wife, Huang Chih-Mei, last Friday (Jun 25).
He wrote in a Facebook post that it had been a long-term dream of theirs that would allow them to support causes close to their hearts.
But are the realities of the industry getting in the way of their dreams?
Dr Chee wrote that he and the café staff had been discussing operations and he is realising how difficult the business is, with high rental rates adding to the mix.
“It’s no wonder that the casualty rate in the industry is so high,” he added.
It’s a problem that local and homegrown eateries face that “big chains and corporate eateries have no problem” with, Dr Chee also wrote. In some cases, they pay even up to six months’ rent worth of security deposits.
However, what adds insult to injury for the longtime politician is that many of the properties where F&B establishments rent are owned by the government.
“The disappointing fact is that many of these properties are owned by our own government. Mapletree, JTC, Surbana, etc own malls and industrial buildings. They set the rent.”
Dr Chee, therefore, appealed for Singaporeans to think local and patronise homegrown F&B establishments.
“So, the next time you go out for a meal or a coffee, consider going down to your neighbourhood café or the eatery down the road owned by our local entrepreneurs rather than the giants that vacuum up F&B life in Singapore.”
He added, “We’ve got to help our own if we are going to make it as a country.”
High rental rates have been the subject of much concern for hawkers as well, with the National Environment Agency (NEA) allegedly raising hawkers’ rent by almost 40 per cent amid the economically trying times made worse by the pandemic.
This was featured in a recent Facebook post by Makansutra founder KF Seetoh, who took to social media to criticise the NEA.
“Here we all are doing our best to ‘#supportourhawkers, and there they are at the same time raising the hawkers’ rent by almost 40 per cent,” wrote Mr Seetoh in a Facebook post published on Friday (Jun 25).
“Why oh why I ask. You may need to claw back to top up the national coffers but do your leaders even know it’s a horrible timing to do so now. This hawker had been languishing in sales this whole year.
Even with this 2 people rule ( even with the promised 5 people rule next month), things aren’t looking rosy for them. Lotsa folks are buying online and WFM, a seductive and convenient culture ingrained into us over the last year and many offline hawkers are left to dry out. Two to a table with 3 turns at peak lunch hour is only 6 dishes n drinks, that’s just scratching at hope’s door. Top that up with this ‘professional valuers’ decree that rents must be raised now, it is another death knell for the #supportourhawkers movement,” he wrote in a widely-shared post. /TISG
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