Appu Uncle Curry House among eateries facing brunt of Covid-19

It is getting tougher for eateries to survive during this pandemic era due to problems related to cash flow and shortage of foreign workers.

One such example is Appu Uncle Curry House in Damansara Jaya that shut down on Monday.

David Sadagopan, who ran the family-owned restaurant, said he was forced to cease operations after 10 years as it was no longer viable.

“We did not open for three months during the MCO (Movement Control Order) and re-opened during the RMCO (Recovery Movement Control Order) but business has been poor and people are just not dining in,” said David.

The restaurant was once located near the old Rothman’s roundabout in Petaling Jaya before moving to Damansara Jaya.

David added the restaurant, which prided itself with the tagline ‘best home cooked banana leaf rice’, used to earn between RM2,000 to RM2,500 a day compared to RM1,000 just before the shutters came down.

“The overheads are high. We have workers and their accommodation to pay for. It is no longer viable running a business today.”

David said before the pandemic, they had 12 workers. He later reduced it to six and relied on family members to run the restaurant.

“It is sad as at one time, we were the number one Indian restaurant in Selangor,” said the 77-year-old former civil servant.

Malaysian Indian Restaurant Owners Association (PRIMAS) president T. Muthusamy said operators are going through tough times and are finding it difficult to sustain their business.

“During the MCO, restaurant operators were only making 20 per cent of what they used to make pre-Covid-19,” said Muthusamy.

“Business picked up during RMCO but it’s getting tougher with the CMCO being imposed in more areas.

“Some are relying on their savings but they are certainly not making profit.”

PRIMAS represents 1,100 members who own 4,000 restaurants nationwide.

Muthusamy admitted he did not have the exact number of restaurants that have folded although he has heard of many restaurants going bust over the past eight months.

“We are also facing a shortage of workers. There are many restaurants that are being run by the owners’ family members instead of foreign workers,” he said.

“The survival of restaurants also depends on locals who support these eateries through food delivery services.”

Muthusamy hopes there will be adequate allocations in Budget 2021 for those in the food industry. These include overdraft facilities with low interest rates and loans.

“I hope the 25 per cent discount on foreign workers’ levy will continue throughout 2021 and we also hope utility companies like Tenaga Nasional Berhad will offer operators a longer time to settle their outstanding bills,” he added.

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