《TAIPEI TIMES》 Restaurants hit by virus restrictions
A sign promoting a 20 percent discount offer for takeout orders hangs above a restaurant in Taipei yesterday. Photo: CNA
TAKEOUT ONLY: Restaurant operators that rely heavily on the local market experienced steep drops in revenue, while companies with operations abroad fared better
By Crystal Hsu / Staff reporter
Revenue at restaurant chains last month shrank drastically as people stayed at home to avoid virus infection after the government on May 19 issued a nationwide level 3 COVID-19 alert.
The dining sector in the first half of last month enjoyed high sales thanks to Mother’s Day celebrations, but suffered a sudden business freeze after the number of domestic infections escalated in the middle of the month.
Hi-Lai Foods Co （漢來美食） — which operates Hi-Lai Vegetarian Restaurant （漢來蔬食）, Cantonese Jade Garden Restaurant （翠園）, buffet restaurant Harbour Restaurant （漢來海港） and luxury Chinese restaurant Celebrity Cuisine （名人坊） — reported revenue of NT$171 million （US$6.19 million） for last month, a slump of 20.39 percent from a year earlier.
The restaurant chain said it has temporarily halted operations at some outlets and has been offering only takeout services at most of its properties to maintain some cash flow and keep workers on the payroll.
Tofu Restaurant Co （豆府） — which owns Korean restaurant chains under the Dubu House Korea （涓豆腐）, Hanok Tofu （北村豆腐家）, Han Jeong Sig （韓姜熙小廚房） and Pho Tau Bay （越南飛機河粉） brands — posted sales of NT$79 million for last month, a 50.57 percent retreat from the same period last year, it said.
Restaurants had since May last year been allowed to offer dine-in services as long as they maintained safe hygiene practices, including installing plastic screens between tables, to reduce infection risk.
Tai Tong Food & Beverage Group （瓦城泰統集團）, which operates six restaurant chains — Thai Town Cuisine （瓦城泰式料理）, Very Thai Restaurant （非常泰）, 1010 Hunan Cuisine （1010湘）, Very Thai Noodles （大心新泰式麵食）, Ten Ten Hunan Bistro （十食湘） and Shann Rice Bar （時時香） — reported a 24.5 percent decrease in revenue to NT$303 million last month.
Tai Tong operates 129 stores in Taiwan and 11 in China, and overseas operations provided some buffer amid the harsh operating environment in Taiwan, it said.
The strategy of diversified investment allowed Wowprime Corp （王品）, whose brands include the Wang Steak （王品台塑牛排）, Tasty （西堤） restaurant chains, Japanese eatery Tokiya （陶板屋） and hotpot restaurant chain 12 Sabu （石二鍋）, to post a mild 5.38 percent decline in revenue to NT$1.32 billion last month, the company said.
Wowprime said its business in China surged 42.3 percent year-on-year to a high of NT$620 million, as the vast market is emerging from the negative effects of the pandemic.
Likewise, La Kaffa International Co （六角國際） and Yummy Town Holdings Corp （雅茗集團）, both of which operate restaurant and beverage store chains at home and abroad, reported that sales grew 14.19 percent and 12.48 percent to NT$300 million and NT$127 million respectively, as business abroad gained momentum.
Sales at companies that rely heavily on the domestic market are likely to deteriorate this month, as the government has further tightened movement restrictions.