Former Mediacorp DJ Daniel Ong recently said in an interview with 8 Days that his Rookery branches have posted 85% loss of revenue since the coronavirus hit Singaporean shores. Alvinology previously reported on Daniel’s pleas to the government and his landlords for help even before Circuit Breaker measures were introduced, with his earliest post on how his Central Business District Rookery branch was in dire straits.
But he said in the interview that he will keep fighting, but hoped for a new round of help from landlords and the government.
Daniel Ong’s Rookery branch at Capital Tower is set to close in June when their three-year lease ends. In the same report from 8 Days, Daniel said that he and his partners were very lucky that their lease would end in June. He was very thankful that some of his landlords allowed for rent relief and that the government helped out with wages subsidies for his staff. But if that sort of help stops, he said that they would not be able to continue.
While many of the difficulties Daniel is facing are common across the F&B industry all over the world, netizens took exception to his social media posts on the matter. His first post on the loss of profits due to work-from-home measures dated March 28 mentioned how his business was “going down” and that they needed help in the form of rent relief and support from Singaporeans.
Netizens bashed his posts, pointing out previous Instagram photos that included a Lamborghini and other lavish lifestyle shots. They felt that someone who lead such a luxurious life with expensive cars and his very own home could do more to keep his business afloat instead of whining about it on social media.
Revenues down to 15% of pre-COVID period even with delivery and take-out options
Daniel also stated in the interview that his earnings are only 15% of what he usually took home from before the coronavirus reached Singapore. His most famous Rookery branch depended on Central Business District foot traffic–which has been voided thanks to work-from-home policies. What was previously the most lucrative branch became a burden to run because the location didn’t even reach third party delivery platform riders reliably.
Daniel continued to say that he was able to “break even” and keep afloat only because he received rent relief and subsidies from the government to pay his workers.
“Our original plan was to continue with Capital Tower ’cos we put in so much money into its infrastructure. The kitchen cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to construct, we also pumped in a lot of money into the renovation,” Daniel said in the interview.
“But now, even though it’s our best-performing outlet, we cannot run it anymore. We’re just lucky we’re hitting the end of our three-year lease (come June).”
He did not mention how big his losses were when it came to shutting down that particular branch, but it could allegedly be in the hundreds of thousands.
He added that if these sort of measures are stopped, then there would be no choice but to close. Daniel has already let go of 57 people on his workforce.
Hoping for another round of help, will keep fighting
Daniel also said in the interview that he hopes another round of help for flailing businesses would come in the form of rent reforms and wage subsidies as he tries to weather the crisis.
He also said that he’s revamped his menu for better food choices for takeaway orders, and recommends customers to try crabmeat linguine, grilled Cajun chicken, and bangers and mash. He also said that they would be putting out new menu items soon and marketing aggressively.
Header image from Daniel Ong Instagram account