Famous North Bridge Road murtabak eateries take their businesses onto the road

A motorcyclist receiving his food from one of the Victory staff.
PHOTO: A motorcyclist receiving his food from one of the Victory staff.

SINGAPORE - Lining the road with arms outstretched, they try to get the attention of motorists.

It's a serious operation as they're selling murtabak from rival restaurants.

Not only do the workers wear bright polo shirts, some of them are even equipped with walkie-talkies to relay orders from the roadside back to the restaurants.

It's Ramadan and two famous murtabak restaurants on North Bridge Road - Singapore Zam-Zam and Victory - have expanded their businesses beyond their steel shutters.

Because of the increased number of takeaway orders during this period, they're hitting the streets to take orders.

Zam-Zam workers wear blue and carry walkie-talkies while Victory workers wear green.

One of Zam-Zam's four directors, Mr Zakariah Abdul Talib, 68, said: "The walkie-talkies are to shorten the waiting time for customers.

"Customers want fast service and we have to keep up with the demand without clogging up the road."

Some of his workers are stationed further up the street. When a customer drives up and makes his order, it is radioed over to the restaurant.

The customer then drives forward, makes payment and collects the food.

The entire process shouldn't take more than a minute, said Mr Zakariah.

"Efficiency and productivity are key," he added, pointing out that Zam-Zam and Victory do not threaten each other's businesses as their food tastes different and suits different taste buds.

"Two competitors, two different cooks and two different types of customers. One may prefer eating from Victory while the other may like our food better."

On top of the drive-through system, the restaurants have also prepared for the additional influx of customers that come with every Ramadan season.

Berita Harian reported last Thursday that Victory had used as many as 3,300 eggs and 120 kilograms of meat to make murtabak last Sunday - about half more than what they normally use.

To accommodate the high demand, the restaurant has two cooks during the Ramadan season instead of one.

The manager of Victory, Mr Abdul Rasid Abdul Rahman, 61, said no walkie-talkies are needed to manage orders.

He was quoted by Berita Harian as saying that they work by taking down the customer's car plate number to avoid getting the orders mixed up.

Echoing Mr Zakariah's sentiments, Mr Rasid told The New Paper last Friday: "There is no competition as everything is up to the customer's taste. If they like our food, they will naturally come back to us."

However, the enthusiastic selling does not sit well with all drivers.

A driver, who was patronising another restaurant in the same row, told TNP: "It's dangerous that the workers are on the road, and the congestion makes it tough for motorists to turn into the lanes near the restaurants."


This article was first published on July 21, 2014.
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