Meet the team behind Singapore Restaurant Rescue

Charlotte Wilkinson and Perry Young set up the Facebook group, Singapore Restaurant Rescue, to help local independent restaurants stay afloat with food deliveries during the COVID-19 circuit breaker. The page has grown to over 70,000 followers, and is saving jobs and keeping at-home diners well fed. Charlotte talks to ANZA about how the idea took shape.

Charlotte Wilkinson

Where are you from?

Both Perry and I are from the UK originally – myself via seven other countries before Singapore (including HK, and Beijing). I’m PR and have been here 9 years and Perry has been here 3 years. I run two businesses – one Women’s Brand Strategy business and the other Diversity & Inclusion consultancy. Perry is the global head of cyber security for an American bank.

What is Singapore Restaurant Rescue? 

It’s a Facebook group focused on helping independent restaurants who use independent delivery services find a willing audience who want to order food direct and avoid paying the significant platform fees many of the food delivery platforms charge.

How does it work? 

A restaurant lists their details, including how to order from them, their menu links, independent delivery options, and opening hours. The business is then tagged so that people can search for ‘pizza, ‘Indian’ etc and find a range of venues to choose from. The majority are also delivering island-wide now so it has significantly opened up our choices of restaurants (whereas the platforms keep local to minimise travel costs and times).

Why did you decide to start a group to help Singapore’s F&B industry?

We’d seen some startling figures – around 90% losses in March for CBD based businesses, with 80% expecting to go under in the next month. When Circuit Breaker measures came into place and dining in was restricted, we knew we had to do something to save our favourite places to eat out. Facebook seemed the obvious and easiest platform to do this.

What is your goal? 

Very simple – to ease the burden for F&B businesses by helping customers find them easily and place an order! Secondly, we’ve matched drivers with little work to restaurants too, so another sector helped and a challenge for the restaurants solved.

Have you been surprised at how quickly it’s grown? 

Yes and no. The speed at which it took off was surprising, but then Singapore is a foodie nation and apparently has more restaurants than NYC, so perhaps we shouldn’t have been surprised. We anticipated that people might order once a week, but many have been ordering 3-4 times a week and some even twice a day. The response from consumers has been immense. I think some of it is down to limited supermarket stocks and online orders not being easy to secure.

What’s been the response from Singapore’s restaurants and F&B outlets? 

We’ve had some amazing messages and emails from some businesses – saying that jobs have been saved, some now overrun with orders, and huge increases in sales. Places who had decided to close and just wait out CB have seen there was still opportunity and decided to re-open with delivery only. Of course, we can’t take all of the credit – businesses have had to adapt so quickly, changing menus to fit transport and packaging, and thinking up lots of innovative ways of adding value or items.

Personally, when we’ve been ordering from places – every single venue has sent personal thank you notes (not knowing we were SRR admin), so I think that human connection between venue and customer has meant a lot. Customers know they’re helping people make a living, not just putting money into a big chain!

How can the average person help Singapore’s restaurants stay afloat during CB? 

Simply order direct as often as you can – be it local hawker food to Michelin starred food. The order direct is key, that way the venue makes 100% on the dishes and the delivery fees are transparent (and principally go to the driver) so we all know how our money is being spent. Also, have patience, businesses are still adjusting to this new way of working, new packaging formats and delivery times may take longer than we are sometimes used to so order early!

Is anyone else on board to help run things?

We’ve also got four other admins (two Aussies, a Kiwi, and an Irish lady) so it really is all hands on deck!

Sign up to Singapore Restaurant Rescue here