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It goes without saying that the many restrictions restaurants have been subject to over the last year have been detrimental to business. One day a kitchen is dishing out exquisite morsels of multi-component dishes for well over $100 per head, the next it’s doling out rice bowls and sandwiches to get through the dining-in ban.

“With every shutdown, business has gotten worse and worse,” says veteran restaurateur Mervin Goh, who owns the Akashi group of Japanese restaurants which has been in business for over 25 years. Last month, Mervin found himself peddling burgers rather than sushi in a bid to keep his staff occupied and paid.

“During the first Phase2HA (in May), our Paragon outlet brought in just a few hundred dollars of sales per day. We have another outlet at Orchard Rendezvous Hotel, which is nearby so it didn’t make sense to do delivery from two kitchens,” he explains. “That’s when we started thinking about selling something different from our Paragon kitchen.”

With additional reporting from Florence Fong.

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