The pandemic has hit us all very hard, and among the people who are visibly suffering from the restrictions of RMCO and SOPs are bar and club owners.
As reported by Malay Mail, Minister Datuk Khairuddin Aman Razali said that PM Muhyiddin was right in remarking recently that nightclubs and entertainment outlets should remain closed forever amid the RMCO.
This statement drew the ire of Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh, who argued Khairuddin’s remarks were bereft of evidence and was insensitive, as the industry was a source of income for many, adding that it has been around for decades and forms part of our culture.
Many bar and club owners felt the same and were hurt by the minister’s remarks according to FMT, since they were forced to lay-off staff due to the lack of business. This affects many of the breadwinners amongst the employees since now they are pushed to find new jobs which are difficult to come by in this economy.
However, the rule for bars and clubs does not apply to resto-bars, which are essentially restaurant cum bars. Since many patrons are unable to drink and party at their regular spots, they have flocked to resto-bars where they can still enjoy doing so amongst casual diners.
While this means business is picking up its pace, it also means that owners of such establishments must keep a close eye on their customers’ behaviour. The current spikes in cases should naturally result in self-imposed, tightened SOPs by operators but when your patrons are usually free-spirited and there for a good time, they tend to throw all that responsibility out the window.
In a report by The Sun, owner of resto-bar Mantra KL, is currently frustrated by the lack of care from their customers. When speaking to the publication, owner Jun Xia Soohu said that customers have “this sense of entitlement and this lackadaisical attitude.”
Jun revealed that some even reserve a table for 4 but show up with 8 people. Sometimes, Mantra KL is forced to turn these customers away. They’ve lost 5o% of their clientele since MCO started. Jun said,
“Some people just don’t seem to care at this point. They just need to be more respectful and understand that their actions could cost us our business.”
While that may be the case for Mantra KL, the story is slightly different when it comes to The Locker & Loft.
JUICE had a quick chat with co-owner Deepak Gill who stated that his customers have no problem complying to the SOP. While he doesn’t force his patrons to do anything, he lays out markings and advice beforehand and they usually follow through. On his end, to ensure there isn’t a crowd, he usually locks the entrance after a certain number of pax so everyone has ample space.
Deepak even offers a solution to those who want to drink but do not want to go out. He suggests that house parties are the way to go and that he can even provide the cocktail catering service *winks*.
“For those who are afraid to go out for drinks, they can have house parties with their own bar, we provide that service.”
Getting creative with their marketing, The Locker & Loft will supply a fully-furnished pop-bar with a bartender for those who are interested in having their own house parties.
As for music-centred establishments such as Le Noir, things aren’t looking as bright. In the same report by The Sun, General Manager Amritpal Singh confessed that they have had to lay off many employees due to the SOPs that make it hard for their business to operate. Once a live-music club, Le Noir might have to attain a restaurant licence to save their business. This would turn it into a regular eatery with no performances.
While there may be solutions to preserve the beloved live-music element to Le Noir, there must be regulations set in place. However, an over-emphasis on regulations might overshadow the most important part, preserving the ambience and vibe of the place.
Resident DJ & Rentak bar co-owner, Loveseat, understands this plight, as music-centric resto-bar, Rentak, has been soldiering on with its humble group of patrons who come mainly for the night’s music selection. In a conversation with JUICE, Loveseat chips in that venues need to tone down the vibe so patrons won’t completely “lose themselves”. Loveseat said,
“I think music-focused venues need to be responsible with their music curation, they have a role to play to manage the social experience in their venues. Sure, patrons want to enjoy music, but the programming should be set up as a listening experience, or as a vibe, and not create an ‘uplifting’ mood that people would want to totally lose themselves to and forego social distancing and SOPs.”
For Loveseat, controlling the crowd doesn’t mean nagging them about social distancing, but fine tuning the music so patrons will have a chilled night out and be adults.
While several owners have come to the defence of their customers, that doesn’t mean we can all just throw caution to the wind and expect a regular night-out ala pre-pandemic. In order to fully show our appreciation towards the establishments we love, we need to adhere to the rules and regulations placed. #KitaJagaKita