Food court takes a break

All quiet at the food court in Jalan Burmah, Penang, which is closing for two weeks. — Photo: LIM BENG TATT/The Star

WITH only takeaways and deliveries allowed during the movement control order period, some 50 stall owners at a food court in Jalan Burmah, Penang, have pulled down the shutters for two weeks.

Japanese fusion food stall operator Warren Tan said he had little choice as almost all his customers dined in.

“They come to enjoy a variety of choices served on hot sizzling cast iron plates. Only a few opt for takeaways, so it’s better to just close during the MCO period.

“At least there is no need to pay rent, ” said Tan, who pledged to pay his workers.

The group of operators closed from Wednesday when the MCO was re-imposed to stem the surge in Covid-19 cases. Tan said business was beginning to pick up after the restrictions were eased last month with more customers allowed to sit together.

“In any food court, seating capacity is a big factor.

“A lot of our customers are working adults within the vicinity. Their numbers during lunch break are crucial to our earnings, ” he added.Another operator, Jess Chan, who has three stalls selling dumplings, said with the food court’s closure, she had to move her fresh supplies to other outlets in Gurney Plaza and Weld Quay.

“About half of our customers order takeaways. Since the food court is closed, we need to find ways to sell our products.

“We have two other outlets which will take over our supplies and ingredients, ” said Chan.

Convenience mart founder Chuah Chun Lim, who has 16 outlets in various parts of the city, said he expected his business to be greatly affected.

“I foresee business dropping between 50% and 70% at outlets near tourist spots due to the MCO.

“Hopefully, other outlets in residential areas will make some profit, ” he said.

Chuah said he also had to reschedule his workers’ shifts to suit the new operating hours.

“None of my workers have been retrenched since the first MCO last year, ” he added.

Gurney Plaza centre manager Peter Chan said the mall’s food court on the fourth floor, comprising 25 stalls, would remain open to enable takeaways.

Essential stores in the premises, he added, would also operate as usual.

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