We are now well into Phase Two, yet the prospects are still bleak for struggling F&B operators across the island. This week, we spotlight the 42-year-old Founder Bak Kut Teh, which is struggling to stay open after months of shutdown, as well as exciting offers and collaborations to try out. 

Save Founder Bak Kut Teh

Outlets: Bugis, Downtown East, Hotel Boss

The devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is still being felt, even though Phase Two has brought about a much-needed resurgence in the economy.

One of the most badly-hit industries has certainly been the F&B industry, and this struggle is clearly seen in an open letter by Nigel Chua, second-generation owner of the local homegrown brand Founder Bak Kut Teh.

“We will shut down our 42-year-old brand in the next two months if we do not turn it around. This is the most difficult crisis we have ever met. For the last five months, our sales have dropped by over 85%,” says Chua. “Business is bad, really bad. We have been keeping our business afloat by relying on takeaway and deliveries since the outbreak of Covid-19, but our efforts are still insufficient. If this continues, Founder Bak Kut Teh will not tide through the pandemic,” he continues.

Although the owners were relieved when Phase Two was announced, Chua said customers have been slow to return.

“We heaved sighs of relief when Phase Two was announced and dine-in was finally permitted. My dad was elated, grinning from ear to ear, and gleefully headed down to the restaurant in the wee hours to prepare the aromatic bak kut teh broth himself,” he says. “We were hopeful that the situation would turn for the better. But we were wrong. Even now, we continue to walk into our empty restaurants with no diners in sight. In our 42 years of business, these few months are the most tiring, trying and difficult.”

Although they are reluctant to give up, Chua says he had no choice but to pen a plea to Singaporeans to save Founder Bak Kut Teh.

“I am appealing to everyone for your support so that Founder Bak Kut Teh can continue to serve you and future generations for many more years to come. We do not wish to close our doors but we desperately need your help,” he says.

The brand was founded by Chua’s father in 1978 and has been serving the herbal, savoury and delicious bak kut teh to Singaporeans ever since. From humble beginnings, the elder Chua was a pig farmer in Seletar who loved bak kut teh so much that he visited many stalls to try their dish.

Finding most of them lacking in good-quality ingredients, he decided to prepare the dish himself, using the very own pigs he reared. This eventually led him to open Founder Bak Kut Teh which has become a favourite joint for locals, tourists and celebrities. With no tourists coming in now, business has suffered even more. Founder Bak Kut Teh will be offering a discount of over 30% on selected family set menus from July 17 to Aug 17 at the Hotel Boss, Bugis and Downtown East outlets.

“This special discount is to thank you for your support during Circuit Breaker (we couldn’t have lasted this long without you) and to encourage you and your family to dine with us. Your next meal choice will make a difference to us,” says Chua. The selected family set meals start from $30.80 (usual price $47.80) for two persons and up to $58.80 (usual price $94.20) for four persons.

For dine-ins, reservations are strongly preferred to adhere to safe distancing measures. “Save Founder Bak Kut Teh, the jobs of our numerous employees, and our heritage — one meal at a time. We promise to serve you with our very best,” Chua adds. 

 

DRINK

New menu at The Old Man Singapore

www.theoldmansg.com | Keong Saik Road

One of Singapore’s most exciting and unique bars, The Old Man Singapore, is unveiling its “v2” menu. Titled “Best Of The Old Man v2”, the new menu is conceptualised by famed Indonesian bartender Agung Prabowo, The Old Man Singapore co-founder Andrew Yap and his team. It builds on the “v1” menu, inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s libations of choice.

In v2, patrons can sample the Torrents of Spring, inspired by Hemingway’s 1926 novel, and the drink features glutinous rice cooked mezcal, grain Wild Turkey whiskey, amaro nonino, Campari, pom-beet shrub and charcoal.

For Whom The Bell Tolls, named after Hemingway’s 1940 novel, is perfect for those looking for an easy cocktail to drink, comprising cocoa nibs sous-vide batavia arrack, sour strawberry, rotovap burnt butter Appleton rum and avocado burst.

Other notable highlights include popular favourites from the v1 menu such as The Sun Also Rises, Islands In The Stream, Death In The Afternoon, and the Clear Old Fashioned. In addition, inspired by the old-fashioned cocktail, The Old Man has collaborated with The 1925 Brewing Co to launch The Undefeated (300ml), a medium-bodied beer brewed with oak that is infused with Wild Turkey bourbon. It starts off on a refreshing note, offering a mix of citrus and fruity flavours before smoothing out with subtle hints of wood caramel and vanilla notes.

Fans of The Old Man can also look out for “The Old Man Specials” featuring a handful of cocktails that are exclusive to Singapore. Customers who prefer to avoid public spaces during this time can still order the bar’s bottled cocktails which are available for delivery and takeaway. Selected cocktails are available in 500ml bottle formats. 

Jigger & Pony X Janice Wong

www.jiggerandpony.com | www.janicewong.online

Chocolates and cocktails? Yes, please! Jigger & Pony bar has unveiled their new Collaboration Series, a limited-edition cocktail-chocolate pairing with renowned Singaporean pastry chef Janice Wong and Rémy Martin. The package features a bottled Shiraz Manhattan (450ml) with Rémy Martin VSOP Cognac, Cinzano Rosso vermouth, shiraz essence and amaretto crafted by Jigger & Pony’s award-winning bar team.

A lighter twist on the classic Manhattan, the spirit-forward cocktail has a tinge of sweetness with a slightly tannic aftertaste. Further celebrating local talent, the label for the bottle was designed by Singaporean artist Samantha Kwan. The cocktail pairs well with colourful chocolates from Chef Janice Wong, each treat carefully curated with different percentages of cacao and alcohol to give a fun and unique tasting experience.

The five featured flavours are Cinnamon Rum, Passionfruit Calamansi Cointreau, Maple Cinzano Bianco, Almond Coffee Grappa and Whisky Orange. The package is available for purchase while supplies last, through Jigger & Pony’s online shop, Janice Wong’s online shop, or in-venue at the Humpback and Caffe Fernet restaurants ($98 before GST). 

 

EAT

Treats from the heart at Si Chuan Dou Hua

PARKROYAL on Beach Road

Renowned fine Chinese cuisine restaurant Si Chuan Dou Hua at PARKROYAL on Beach Road will be offering a weekend a la carte dim sum buffet from now until Sept 27 for $52++ (adult) and $30++ (child).

Famed for its authentic Sichuan and Cantonese fare, executed perfectly by executive chef Zeng Feng and his capable culinary team, Si Chuan Dou Hua is offering a special brunch menu with unlimited servings of classic Cantonese and Sichuan dim sum, appetisers, nourishing soups and desserts (including two Western-style sweets by executive chef Vincent Aw of PARKROYAL on Beach Road).

There are also single servings of exquisitely prepared premium dim sum specialities. For reservations, email [email protected] or call +65 6505 5722.