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How restaurants and gyms are adapting to a second round of closure

Forced to close for yet another time, restaurants and gyms are some of the worst-hit businesses due to the pandemic – here's how they're surviving.

Ritual Gym

ritual-brad-robinson

Brad Robinson, co-founder and CEO 

Lessons Learnt

When the circuit breaker hit last year, we were in the middle of building our Orchard outlet. Despite that, we opened our Orchard outlet when the country re-opened and it turned out to be our fastest-growing outlet in the history of the company. So we’ve seen success even under these circumstances as habits change and working from home creates a larger work-life balance. When restrictions were imposed last year, we became aware of how the situation could escalate at any time within a short period, so we invested our time while gyms were closed in making a digital pivot with the introduction of our home workout app, Ritual FIT.

With the stepping up of measures, we’re now able to seamlessly provide a Ritual experience for anyone, regardless of gyms being closed for the month with Ritual FIT so we’re much better equipped to handle this second round of restrictions.

What’s next? 

Our team has always put a tremendous amount of thought into our client experience, so we’re hunkering down into what we know best and really trying to fine-tune the Ritual experience. We’re developing new ways to engage our members and give back to them, whether it’s through workshops, educational content, or cool discounts with brands we love. If the last year has taught us anything, we have to be adaptable at all times so we’re really taking this time to educate our clients so that even if gyms are closed, we’ve got them covered. We’re really excited about the new marketing efforts we’re pushing out, and the launch of our first Ritual in the East Side, of course!

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Spartans Boxing Club

Russell Harrison, group managing director

Lessons Learnt

The last round of restrictions taught us that being agile as a business is incredibly important. We focused on what we could do and what we could control. We discovered that digital is a vital component of our business, not just from a customer-facing perspective but also from the back-end of our business. The digitisation of our Franchise Management System has allowed our business to grow post restrictions.

We also learnt that having great people who believe in your business is crucial. The teams across our gym network, from coaches to gym managers and marketing guys, have all pitched in and done what needs to be done.

What’s next? 

Our objectives have remained the same since the first lockdown until now.

  1. Keep our Spartans members fit, healthy and safe. So we keep offering online workouts, 1-on-1 personal training as permitted by Sports SG.
  2. To keep our workforce fully employed across our gym network and to keep our staff fit, healthy and safe.
  3. To ensure our gyms are all healthy as businesses once restrictions are over, we’re doing renovations at our original gym at Joo Chiat Road, and a second location at Balestier – and getting set for reopening. Deep cleaning, new leases of life for all!

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Ishinomaki Grill & Bar

Ishinomaki

Janice Chin, Operations Director, 

Lessons Learnt

This is quite sudden but we have gone through Circuit Breaker last year so comparatively we are more certain about what we need to do. We learnt that you must always be connected with the customers, whether it’s online or operationally; we must also make sure we are reachable – example by being able to reply to queries quickly. The main thing is – customers still want comfort food. At Ishinomaki Grill & Bar, we are committed to ensure that our customers can continue to enjoy Japanese ingredients and dishes, especially since travel to Japan seems improbable in the foreseeable future. We have worked with our suppliers and customers will be able to enjoy even the seasonal Japanese ingredients such as Kimedai , Kinki and Nodoguro.

What’s next? 

We have introduced a special service where they can order seasonal fish(es) that our culinary team will grill and send over. Of course, our chirarishi bowl, the number one favourite, will definitely be available.” 

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Mag’s Wine Kitchen

Magdelene Tang, chef-owner

Lessons Learnt

That a restaurant dining is not just about a physical space during the pandemic, so a restaurateur needs to rethink the restaurant experience in various contexts – like how can I offer a Mag’s Wine Kitchen experience when customers cannot come? It was also a good time for us to try out new dishes. During 2020’s Circuit Breaker we introduced the seafood paella, which was a sellout. Wine in Mag’s Wine Kitchen has naturally played as important a role as food, so we worked with our suppliers to curate a solid list of every wine that we love, at reasonable retail prices, from $48 onwards.

What’s next? 

To keep in touch with our customers, understand their needs and keep tweaking what we offer!