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Deliveroo may soon operate a dine-in restaurant

It will open new remote kitchens across S'pore next year, one of which could evolve to become a fast casual eatery

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The Katong Editions site is home to some five restaurants, including zi char restaurant New Ubin Seafood, Greek restaurant Blu Kouzina and raw fish salad restaurant Aloha Poke.

Singapore

DELIVEROO could soon operate a dine-in restaurant in Singapore that serves food to customers at their tables - potentially the first by a food delivery app here, The Business Times has learnt.

The London-based food delivery startup, which launched in Singapore in November 2015, will open new remote kitchens across the island next year, one of which could evolve to become a fast casual eatery.

These remote kitchens, known as Deliveroo Editions, are "delivery-only" kitchens that house multiple restaurant brands under one roof, allowing them to quickly make meals on order on site and access zones where they do not have a presence. Previously, Deliveroo's nearly 4,000 restaurants could serve only consumers who live or work in their area.

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BT understands that Deliveroo had applied for a dine-in permit at its Katong Editions site - currently its first and only Editions site - but to no avail. The concept was akin to that of a casual dining food court with an alfresco area, where customers could sit down and enjoy food prepared by any of the restaurants on site.

While Deliveroo has no plans to re-apply for the same permit at its Katong Editions site, it will explore the dine-in concept at its new Editions sites. Deliveroo will also consider offering pick-up services at its new sites, where customers can order food through the app and head down to a site to collect their food.

Siddharth Shanker, general manager of Deliveroo Singapore, said that the new Editions sites are likely to be in the heartlands. "It's a data-driven bet. The first decision is usually where to open, which will depend on restaurants and cuisines that are already in the area. The second is what restaurants to bring onto the site, which will depend on the food trends in that area."

He added that because Editions are designed for food delivery only, the average time taken for food to reach customers from an Editions site is just 23 minutes. This compares to Deliveroo's nationwide average delivery time of 33 minutes.

"It's fantastic for restaurants as they can address new audiences. It's good for consumers as they previously would not have access to these restaurants, and for riders because despatch becomes more efficient."

At the Katong Editions site at 332 Tanjong Katong Road, Deliveroo riders would park their vehicles along the adjacent Branksome Road to wait to pick up their food orders. A large digital screen placed outside the site would inform riders when their food is ready for pick-up.

Currently, the Katong Editions site is home to some five restaurants, including zi char restaurant New Ubin Seafood, Greek restaurant Blu Kouzina and raw fish salad restaurant Aloha Poke. Each restaurant gets its own kitchen and pays zero rent or utility fees. Instead, they pay a cut of their revenues to Deliveroo in exchange for using the space.

Pang Seng Meng, owner of New Ubin Seafood (which recently moved from its longtime premises in Sin Ming to Hillview), said that the offer from Deliveroo to operate from the Katong Editions site was one that he could not refuse. Sales from the site have been "refreshingly good" in the three weeks since it set up shop.

But the restaurant's biggest challenge has been time, which includes having to cook chili crab in under 15 minutes. Mr Pang said: "We are still ironing out our operations, but it has been a good cultural experience. The trend among the younger generation is online ordering, so timing is important. Our cooks know that they are on the clock all the time here."

New Ubin Seafood deploys three cooks to work at the Katong Editions site at any one time. While the restaurant is not yet profiting because "the cost of three cooks is expensive", Mr Pang said he expects to see profits by the end of this year. Blu Kouzina reportedly saw its revenue increase by 550 per cent in just four months after setting up at the Katong Editions site.

Singapore is the first market outside London to land Deliveroo's Editions concept; its Katong Editions site opened in August 2016. Mr Shanker said: "We are investing heavily in our Deliveroo Editions sites, enabling us to expand the delivery zones of high-performing restaurants, reduce their operating costs and make deliveries even quicker."

He added: "This will also give more consumers access to the brands and food they love."

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