Eateries shortening hours

Changing times: Diners are opting for cozy nights over post-dinner outings. — AZHAR MAHFOF/The Star

Operators struggle with slower business, fewer customers

PETALING JAYA: Some restaurants and eateries have been rolling down their shutters earlier following cost and patronage concerns.

Besides a slower business, they said not many people were eating out after hours, making it uneconomical to keep their shops open till midnight and beyond.

The shorter operating hours are also in line with trends observed in other countries as well, such as the United States and the United Kingdom.

Restaurant and Bistro Owners Association vice-president Jeremy Lim said many businesses were experiencing a decline in sales.

“The increasing cost of living has put pressure on consumers, making dining out a luxury even for those who could previously afford it.

“I see it as a knee-jerk reaction to rising prices across the board, leading many to cut back on discretionary spending like going out,” said Lim in an interview yesterday.

He said some outlets had responded to these challenges by reducing their operating hours to manage costs.

“With the revised mandatory working hour regulations in place, it may be difficult to add new shifts or adjust staffing levels.“In situations where business is slow, it may be more feasible to close at certain hours rather than operate at a loss,” he said.

While some outlets adapt by adjusting their hours, Lim pointed out that those located in malls do not have the flexibility to do so.

In the restaurant industry, he said cost management would be a priority when business was slow.

“Operators often look first at reducing headcount since fixed costs like rent and raw materials are non-negotiable.

“As prices for raw materials, labour and utilities continue to rise, businesses may need to pass these costs on to consumers, eventually leading to a point where consumers can no longer afford the higher prices,” he said.

Malaysia Singapore Coffee Shop Proprietors’ General Association president Wong Teu Hoon said many Chinese restaurants and kopitiams had also slashed their hours in recent years.

“It first started during the pandemic, when many had to close early. We noticed a trend now where people are less keen to come out after dinner.

“Perhaps they have gotten used to spending less time outside,” he said.

Wong, who is also Pan Malaysia Koo Soo Restaurants and Chefs Association president, said one of his restaurants in Jalan Bunga Raya, Melaka, that used to open until 2am, now closed by 10pm.

“Many of our members are also doing the same; we are no longer open after 10pm or 11pm, because the crowd is no longer the same as before.

“There are not many Chinese restaurants that operate late into the night nowadays,” he said.

However, Wong noted that his business volume was similar even when closing earlier.

“For customers who want to have supper or eat late, they will have better chances at the mamak shops,” he added.

Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association president Datuk Jawahar Ali Taib Khan said that many mamak restaurants had reverted to their normal operation hours after the pandemic.

“Things have improved for many. But there is a small number that opt to keep their hours short to cut costs, like closing by 10pm due to a shortage of workers,” he said.

He noted that some popular mamak restaurants near tourist spots had started to open 24 hours to cater to the increasing number of tourists in Malaysia.

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Eateries , restaurants , close early , cost , patronage , mamak.


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