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TWO new coffee shops, which leverage technology and other features to boost productivity, were launched over the weekend, with a tender for three more such coffee shops to be released in the third quarter of this year.
Koufu's "Happy Hawkers" coffee shop in Tampines was officially opened by Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, while Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, and Culture, Community and Youth, opened Chang Cheng's "FoodTastic" at Choa Chu Kang.
Amid manpower constraints, the food services industry is seeking fresh ways of meeting the needs of consumers, while reducing dependence on labour. For instance, the two recently launched coffee shops tap both front- and back-of-house initiatives to raise productivity and improve customer experience, such as digital ordering and mobile app payments. Productivity improvements also stem from layout design, onsite shared kitchens and offsite central kitchens.
At FoodTastic, an automated floor cleaning robot as well as automated dish sorting and washing equipment cut down on manual tasks. Together with other improvements, manpower requirements at FoodTastic compared to Chang Cheng's other coffee shops is about 60 per cent lower, despite a 25 per cent bump in seating capacity.
Meanwhile, at Happy Hawkers, patrons can expect cashless payments and digital ordering via kiosks and mobile apps for greater convenience, while the coffee shop also uses a tray return robot to ensure a clean dining environment.
A tender for three more coffee shops in Bukit Batok, Punggol and Yishun will be launched in the third quarter of this year.
"Given the manpower challenges, coffee shop operators would have to revamp the traditional business model and use technology to improve operations," said the chief executive of Spring Singapore, Poon Hong Yuen. "The transformation of coffee shops would not only ensure sustainability but also improve the working conditions of staff. We encourage more operators to seize the opportunity to make a bigger impact on the productivity of the coffee shop sector."
The coffee shops are jointly facilitated by Spring and the Housing and Development Board, and are in line with the recommendations proposed under the Food Services Industry Transformation Map launched in September last year.
In future calls for tender of coffee shop spaces, Spring and HDB will require bidders to implement innovative and productive measures, they highlighted in a joint release.
HDB chief Cheong Koon Hean said: "The adoption of more productive operating formats will offer residents a more conducive dining experience, making these coffee shops even more appealing and lively."
There are nearly 970 coffee shops and food courts in Singapore, which employ 13 per cent of the total food services workforce.