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.

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Ran outta space…continued… In the coming days, if the government decides to have a no dine in rule for restaurants. Or a shut down of any sorts. It’s truly game over. For the whole industry. Many have asked me to consider a take away and a online alternative. Ta pau. Truth is, we are in the CBD. Half now work from home. No workers means no sales. Also it’s difficult running a take away biz in a space that costs 25k. And staff that cost 40k. Stall holders rents are much lower to make any sense. But we will try. I owe it to my team to try. The only way now is if there’s such a measure, that you waive rentals. Cash flow is severely affected. Like all businesses now… like hotels…no sales means we can’t even make ends meet. Pay staff. Or suppliers. We are asking for you to look at us as partners. Giving us a 2-4K discount on a 25k rent really just delays the inevitable. On behalf of all small biz owners in all the malls, and cafes, and commercial buildings. And everyone affected in the service and retail space… Just. Give. Us. A. Chance. When times are good… we pay GTO. On top of rent… we’ve also paid rentals that have doubled or tripled over the years. It’s a give and take relationship. Can you be on the other side for once? I’m pleading. Coz past this next few weeks… we are all not going to make it. Defaults at 50% or more. It’s dire now. And we can’t wait for two weeks for an email reply for you to check with your bosses…we are going down now. Now. We are in this together. 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻 #sgunited #singapore #covid #savefnbsg #struggling #sinking #help #savejobs #save #singaporeans #staff @hengsweekeat @leehsienloong @[email protected] @straits_times @fraserspropertyretail @citydevelopments

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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.

Netizens bash Daniel Ong for lavish lifestyle posts while asking to save his business from closing. Read about it here.

Luxurious lifestyle

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.

Mark Lee or Daniel Ong? Who are you rooting for?

“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