PETALING JAYA: After almost three years of Covid-19-induced sluggish business, the tide has turned for Chinese restaurants ahead of new year celebrations.
Phang Yew Kee, owner of Sek Yuen restaurant, said “life’s back to normal” with business running at 80% of the pre-pandemic level.
“Business is certainly picking up. After the lockdown ended, people are more willing to come out for meals.
“Initially, they were hesitant but now you even see them out with their elderly family members,” Phang said.
But he notes a difference in customer spending habits.
“Due to the pandemic, many families had their income affected so the spending pattern is different. They spend less on dishes and opt for less luxurious choices,” he said.
More customers are choosing to pick up their orders instead of depending on delivery riders.
Chong Thin Foong, head chef at the New Peng Wah restaurant in Damansara Jaya, said profits are almost back to 100%.
“It’s a lot. Compared to last year, it’s almost double. Because last year, with all the Covid cases, they (customers) didn’t dare to dine in.
“Now that the cases are fewer, people are more confident in coming out.”
Chong said that while the prices of CNY dinners have increased, this is to be expected as prices rise every year.
“Of course, grocery prices are going up, too, but customers understand. Actually, every year the prices keep going up, they never come down, especially for seafood.
“Usually, 30% to 50% more which is normal for customers because it’s Chinese New Year. My cheapest set meal costs RM800 and most expensive RM2,000,” Chong said.
Wong Teu Hoon, president of Pan Malaysia Koo Soo Restaurants and Chefs Association, said most restaurants were already booked.
“They’re trying to do double shifts but one concern is the fear of insufficient manpower,” he said. However, Wong noted that business levels still can’t match the levels of 2019, before the pandemic, when there were many more tourists who dined at restaurants.