Malaysian restaurant chain Uncle Don’s opens three outlets in KL, Ipoh and Seremban amid Covid-19 pandemic

Uncle Don’s founder and CEO Ian Ong with guests at the newly opened Uncle Don’s in Seremban 2. — Picture courtesy of Thomas Samuel
Uncle Don’s founder and CEO Ian Ong with guests at the newly opened Uncle Don’s in Seremban 2. — Picture courtesy of Thomas Samuel

PETALING JAYA, August 3 — Local food and beverage chain Uncle Don’s opened three new branches in Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh and Seremban last month amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

With the Seremban and Ipoh being the first two outlets out of the Klang Valley, customers in the neighbouring states are now able to enjoy its menu of local cuisine at affordable prices.

Uncle Don’s first outlet opened in Petaling Jaya in 2016 and the tagline “Dine like a Don everyday” has been incorporated into all its 21 outlets to illustrate the wide selection of food choices at reasonable prices.

According to founder and chief executive officer Ian Ong, 49, the new outlets were initially supposed to open from March to May but were pushed back to July because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He told Malay Mail that the Seremban and Ipoh outlets were opened mainly because of the large number of the Indian and Chinese population that would enjoy the affordable alcoholic beverages and local cuisines.

Visitors are spoilt for choice at Uncle Don's. — Picture courtesy of Thomas Samuel
Visitors are spoilt for choice at Uncle Don's. — Picture courtesy of Thomas Samuel

“Not just that, it has also been my dream to have Uncle Don’s restaurants nationwide by 2021.

“There is also a demand from visitors in other states as well to open up Uncle Don’s franchise so that they too are able to enjoy the food rather than travelling all the way to the Klang Valley just to indulge in our local cuisine.

“The progress of the Uncle Don’s brand is key in sustaining the newly opened restaurant which stems from the consistency of our food quality as well as the affordable dining experience.

“Although the Covid-19 storm is not over yet in Malaysia, many customers who are regulars at Uncle Don’s have returned and business is picking up at an encouraging pace.

“Even during the launch of the Seremban branch last week, we had visitors coming from all the way from Melaka to dine in our restaurant.”

Ong also said that because of the social distancing concept that needs to be adhered to, the restaurant’s revenue has declined compared to before the pandemic hit.

“Customers need to sit at separate tables especially if they come in large numbers leading to reduced maximum seating capacity at a given time.

“This leads to lesser people dining in the restaurant at a given time, reducing the profitability of the restaurants.”

As such, Ong said that having efficient work policies is one of the solutions by making sure staff are trained to do many things at once as compared to before the pandemic.

“Staff are required to make sure that diners follow the social-distancing concept, apart from making sure that their temperatures are taken and tables sanitised frequently.

Staff taking the temperature of customers visiting the newly-opened Uncle Don's in Seremban. — Picture courtesy of Ian Ong
Staff taking the temperature of customers visiting the newly-opened Uncle Don's in Seremban. — Picture courtesy of Ian Ong

“Apart from that, we have distributed our staff working in other branches to work in the newly-opened outlets so that we can maximise the efficiency of our operations.

“To date, none of our staff have been retrenched because we want them to still retain their jobs so that they too would be able to earn an income to make ends meet.”

The 49-year-old said the prices of food and beverages have been consistently the same as before the MCO was in place.

“We pride ourselves for affordable dining as we revise our menu when it is needed so that there are more choices for our customers rather than sticking to a fixed number of choices on the menu item, he said.

“However during the MCO, we only came up with a few dishes as we were not allowed to operate fully and as such, prepared the food that the majority would order during that time.”

Saying that the chain is collaborating with e-wallet applications to give out discounts and promotions to our customers, fans of the restaurant can expect four more restaurants located in Sunway Pyramid, Kuantan, Kota Kemuning and Rawang to open by the end of this year.

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