The Chinese restaurant struggles without CNY gathering dinners during the MCO


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Author’s description: Every Chinese New Year, my family and I went to regular Chinese restaurants and Nyonya restaurants for our gatherings. Come to think of it, we never really have dinner there unless it’s CNY or we celebrate my grandparents ’birthdays.

With only 2 to 7 guests per table, these companies that are known for accommodating large groups struggle hard.

Now forced to innovate our CNY offering, we were able to talk Oriental Group i Hakka Restaurant to find out how they adapt this MCO.

Up to a drop of 80% On sale

When the lock was first announced in 2020, the Oriental Group quickly adapted digitally. They developed their own delivery platform which functions as a center for ordering, payment and delivery. In addition, all of their 14 outlets are also on GrabFood.

Despite this, the group told the Vulcan Post that even before the MCO started, they had already noticed a significant decline in revenue since CNY 2020. That’s compared to the 2019 numbers.

“In 2019, CNY sales (which lasted 30 days) contributed approximately 19% of our annual earnings. It consisted of gathering crowds for annual dinners at both festive and social events, ”said Lyn, who is from the group’s marketing and PR department.

The same could be said for the 6-year-old Hakka restaurant. Located in the heart of KL’s Golden Triangle, the restaurant could accommodate hundreds of snack bars at once before the pandemic.

Restaurant Hakka could accommodate 400 people in their restaurant and 300 outside the social distance / Image credited to: restaurant Hakka

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

With restrictions on the number of people per table, many decided not to dine in our restaurants, especially because Chinese food is best eaten in a group at a round table to be served with a wide selection of dishes.

Danny Chong, owner and director of Hakka Restaurant.

Because they are a smaller business compared to the Oriental Group, they offered delivery via DeliverEats and to take it through their social networks was all they could.

Even with CNY packages this year, the Hakka restaurant has still suffered an 80% drop since February 11, 2021. This was compared to a one-day CNY dinner gathering before the MCO, which contributed 1% of their total annual earnings.

Packing trays

CNY dishes decorated by Oriental Group / Image credit: Oriental Group

But adjusting for takeaways and deliveries is also associated with extra work for the kitchen staff and the front of the house.

Takeaway operations require a different scope of work, because so much attention and attention must be paid to food handling and packaging. It then comes down to logistics and ensuring that customers receive their orders in the best shape.

“We had to market ourselves differently: that our kitchen was also friendly to take away, because our core business has always been focused on lunches because of the nature of our varied menu,” Lyn said.

Therefore, the Oriental Group presented its CNY set menus that can satisfy 2-10 people in the household. For those who live far from family, they offer seasonal boxes with small bento packages (RM38 / RM88) and gift packages.

For simplicity, they have a set of bundles that includes classics Yee Sang, Radish cake and Nian Gao which come in a marked warmer bag (RM398).

Can serve between 2-10 people / Image credit: Oriental Group

Meanwhile, Hakka Restaurant has set up 4 CNY packages that are delivered in 4-5 dishes. They contain traditional festive meals to feed 4-8 people, ranging from RM168 to RM538.

Chinese cuisine has one of the most comprehensive menus in the F&B industry with unique service standards. During the inevitable circumstances of a pandemic, teams had to be versatile in performing new tasks to optimize standards of conduct.

Careful training, education and research and development are employed among kitchen crews and in front of houses, all to ensure that their new standard continues to match the quality of their dining services.

Dishes of the Hakka restaurant from the set menus / Picture for the Hakka restaurant

However, what Chinese restaurants could struggle with is convincing Malaysians to buy their CNY packages first. For some families (including mine), a do-it-yourself approach is cost-effective.

For example, you can buy pre-packaged Yee Sang boxes under RM40 as a base and add your own proteins like salmon. This can already feed up to 10 people.

As for the traditional Poon Choy, canned abalons and canned mushrooms are also sold in grocery stores.

Of course, not everyone is willing to make an effort to set up a feast for the family. CNY restaurant packages for a quick, stress-free house gathering dinner would come in handy here.

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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 can consider this to ensure that our favorite places stay open for CNY gathering dinners and more.

Until then, we at Vulcan Post hope that the pandemic will also be a thing of the past.

Lyn concluded: “No industry has been spared this pandemic and there is no predictable time frame for its end – every company is fighting for the survival and existence of those on its payroll. Unity is the key to economic survival. ”

Bottom line: Although two-seater meals are allowed again, it takes a long time before the food and beverage industry recovers and reaches its number again before the pandemic. With WFH helps us reduce costs in relation to food and other services, we can occasionally lend a hand to local businesses, regardless of industry.

  • You can learn more about the Oriental Group hereand Hakka Restaurant here.
  • You can read about other topics related to MCO here.

Featured Pictures: Oriental Group / Hakka Restaurant


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