With a little help from friends, one Singaporean restaurant in Boat Quay is giving away free food

The Moroccan-style braised lamb with braised vegetables and lamb meatballs that diners were treated to on April 3, 2020. — Barbary Coast pic via TODAY
The Moroccan-style braised lamb with braised vegetables and lamb meatballs that diners were treated to on April 3, 2020. — Barbary Coast pic via TODAY

SINGAPORE, April 7 — Like other food and beverage establishments, the restaurants and bars at Boat Quay have been hard hit by the Covid-19 crisis. Now a group of people have banded together to provide free supper to F&B workers in the area.

It all started when Barbary Coast, a swanky restaurant and bar serving American cuisine, started offering its gourmet dishes for S$7 (RM21) to employees from establishments in its Boat Quay neighbourhood. These dishes would have otherwise cost more than S$20.

Then people who heard about the initiative started donating and the meals became free.

Michael Callahan, co-owner of Barbary Coast, said he started the initiative to “help fellow brothers and sisters in the immediate vicinity”.

“We know that people's disposable incomes were diminishing quickly,” said Callahan, who was from Hawaii and has lived in Singapore since 2011.

The restaurant would prepare different menus every day. Last Friday’s diners were treated to Moroccan-style braised lamb with braised vegetables and lamb meatballs, while on Saturday it was tandoori chicken with tomato pilaf rice and ratatouille.

They would make 20 plates every night.

They were initially priced at S$7 nett to cover the cost of the ingredients used, but when Callahan posted about the initiative to a WhatsApp group of 270 industry partners, donations started pouring in.

Other F&B owners and operators, bartenders and even patrons of Barbary Coast have since donated a total sum that covers the cost of nearly 600 plates.

One donor, Peter Westin, 35, who works as a tax manager, said: “When this is over I want the F&B scene in Singapore to be as vibrant as ever, and this is one way I can help.

“I hope that people like me who are still financially stable will also help out.”

Vivian Pei, 50, who is the academy chair of the World’s 50 Best Bars, Asia list, said she has donated to similar initiatives in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, and was excited to see Singapore’s very own version.

“Although my income has been severely affected, I am still better off than most,” she said.

“The F&B folks are the people who take care of everyone else the rest of the time, for birthdays, anniversaries, commiserations and more. Now is the time to take care of them.”

The interior of Barbary Coast. — Barbary Coast pic via TODAY
The interior of Barbary Coast. — Barbary Coast pic via TODAY

Callahan said that every evening, Barbary Coast would post the dish of the day on a WhatsApp chat group and Instagram, and the first 20 people to RSVP can reserve their free plate.

From today, these plates will be offered in takeaway boxes instead as dine-ins will not longer be allowed.

“A lot of people are just not going to be at their restaurants anymore, so we may shift this to take place earlier to take care of those who are still out and about, like essential services providers such as rubbish collectors, taxi drivers or other delivery drivers who need a meal,” Callahan said.

“We hope to do this for as long as we can... until we can't go on any more.” — TODAY

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