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Serving Authenticity at Museum Café

Words by Earnest Lim

Located within a historic building, find out how Museum Café strives to serve authentic Peranakan food.

Museum Café, owned by 1009 Pte Ltd, is a quaint Peranakan establishment serving authentic Peranakan fares such as laksa, rendang chicken and nyonya kueh. Having an afternoon meal in Museum Café is unlike any other in Singapore. The Café is located in the historic Institute for the Veneration of Literature, or commonly known locally as Chongwen Ge. The institute, constructed back in 1852, allows patrons to enjoy their afternoon lunch or tea surrounded by beautiful historic architecture that is well-preserved even till this day. The food and flavour of Museum Café is firmly rooted in authentic Peranakan cuisine. The Café offers monthly specials, with each special featuring a secret recipe from one of the chef’s hometown that has been passed down for generations.

Sing Ramen Laksa (Image courtesy of Museum Café)

Although Museum Café is well-connected to history, it is moving along with the breakneck pace of the F&B industry. 1009 Pte Ltd’s management worked together with NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) to modernise its operations and tap on the benefits that come along with it. Prior to its upgrading efforts, Museum Café staff had a set of challenging operational and manpower issues. During the ordering process, staff would scribble down orders on pen & paper. This order sheet is then passed to the kitchen to begin cooking while a copy is kept for record keeping and reporting. The older workers found it difficult to read the handwritten orders at times, resulting in the kitchen preparing the wrong food for the customer. This problem cascaded into reporting errors due to ineligible handwriting as well. A simple excel sheet was used to track and manage the movement of orders and inventory.

After working with e2i to analyse and identify key issues, Museum Café adopted a point-of-sale (POS) system as well as a Kitchen & Inventory Management system. These systems enabled orders to be placed through the POS. The orders are then sent directly to the kitchen for the chefs to begin preparation. The digitised system minimised human errors that may occur due to misinterpretation or ineligible handwriting. Museum Café was able to reduce the time required for processing customer orders by 83 per cent. The shortened order process minimised the amount of steps required for getting the customer’s order out, increasing customer satisfaction while reducing operational errors.

Additionally, the inventory is automatically updated through the system as orders flow into the kitchen. This reduces the amount of time required to perform manual stocktaking as well as collating data from paper records for end-of-day reporting. Through the integrated system, reports can be easily generated with a few clicks of a button, providing crucial insight for the management team to make decisions and the ability to act swiftly.

Upgraded POS System (Image courtesy of Museum Café)

Museum Café had to reduce its manpower during the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in manpower shortages during crucial timings such as breakfast and lunch. However, with its adoption of technology, the café is now able to operate with four staff instead of the previous seven at any given time. The company shared this productivity gain with one of its older workers (aged 50 and above) through a wage increment. Previously, each member had to focus intently on their tasks at hand and were unable to assist each other where required. The Café’s oldest employee is 84, and although he is healthy and upbeat, team members do keep a lookout for him to ensure his safety and well-being at work. With the new system in place, Museum Café’s staff are now able to allocate more time to assist him whenever it is required, allowing him to take more breaks in order to continue performing the work which he enjoys.

Uncle Lee, 84, serving a customer at Museum Cafe (Image courtesy of Museum Café)

Museum Café has plans to continue its adoption of technology. The management is looking to implement an attendance system which will be integrated into the POS. This would replace their current outdated method of recording clock-in and clock-out timings using an attendance time card. The time card system is often inaccurate and inconvenient for older workers who may find it a hassle to distinguish their card amongst others.

Museum Café has evolved its operations by incorporating technology to make the workplace smarter and safer together with e2i. The one thing that has not changed is its commitment to authenticity and high-quality Peranakan food.

For more information on Museum Café, call 9864 6021

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