The local food and beverage (F&B) sector saw itself crashing down during the Covid-19 pandemic. In a bid to survive, innovation and pivoting has proven to be necessary.
F&B businesses displayed resilience strategies and one of them is through partnerships with each other to expand their reach.
For one, standalone bubble tea brands were not allowed to open during the circuit breaker period and they quickly partnered up with cloud kitchens to continue selling their offerings.
Here are the most notable collaborations between F&B businesses that helped them weather through the storm.
Cat & the Fiddle x Tenderfresh
F&B group Tenderfresh collaborated with Singaporean-based cheesecake brand Cat & the Fiddle through their Tenderbest Makcik Tuckshop at Jalan Kayu to offer cheesecake.
Tenderbest Makcik Tuckshop is a cafe setting serving nostalgic tuckshop fare and barista coffee such as its popular Smoky Iced Caramel Macchiato.
According to Tenderfresh, Cat & the Fiddle is selling so well that Makcik Tuckshop extended the menu to their outlets at Admiralty and Ayer Rajah Community Centre.
Thong Aik Coffee x Ying Thai
Thong Aik Coffee serves up Nanyang coffee in the morning, and Thai food from lunch (11am) to dinner in a collaboration with Ying Thai since the circuit breaker.
Till 11am, you can expect items such as Lu Rou Fan aka Braised Pork Rice Bowl, Century Egg Porridge, and Green Bean Soup with Gula Melaka.
From 11am onwards, the menu switches up and you can expect authentic Thai food such as Basil Minced Pork Rice, Tom Yum Fried Rice or Tang Hoon with Pork or Chicken.
Many customers raved about the place, with online reviews saying that it serves good coffee and authentic Thai food in one location.
Meatsmith x Jack Daniels
American meathouse Meatsmith and American whiskey brand Jack Daniels teamed up to create the ultimate at-home tasting menu during Covid-19.
The menu includes a 5-course meat-filled menu from Meatsmith and a 5-bottle tasting kit from Jack Daniels.
It is known that good booze goes well with flavoursome meat so this collaboration was much called for.
Gully x Blu Kouzina
The Gully Kitchen & Bar on Dempsey Road collaborated with the executive chef from Blu Kouzina to curate a menu to showcase street-inspired food from countries around the world.
Think Nepalese momo dumplings, Indonesian tempeh sauteed with sambal, German currywurst, Taiwanese fried chicken sliders and of course, Mediterranean plates such as falafel and rice.
MONGA x Founder Bak Kut Teh
Founder Bak Kut Teh collaborated with Monga Taiwanese Fried Chicken to offer Monga’s Brown Sugar Bubble Milk Tea when customers spend a minimum amount at the former.
Customers were able to have their cravings satisfied with bubble milk tea from Monga and comforting pork ribs soup from Founder Bak Kut Teh.
Due to popular demand, the collaboration was even extended for another month until July 1 from June 1.
KOI x Grain
Following the implemented closure on standalone bubble tea shops during the circuit breaker, the KOI chain worked with Grain to continue offering bubble tea to their customers.
Grain is an online restaurant that offers meals on demand such as Grilled Farm Fresh Chicken or Caramelised Beef Char Siew prepared from scratch in their cloud kitchens.
Apparently, Grain built a bubble tea machine in their kitchen to churn out drinks until circuit breaker ended.
Customers were able to check out KOI beverages alongside Grain’s healthy selection of meals.
The response was overwhelming as most of the bubble teas get sold out almost immediately after they are restocked.
Grain had said that the KOI drinks were “selling out faster than [they] can put them back in stock”.
Xing Fu Tang: Wooshi, Suparakki Ramen, Fish Hut
Popular Taiwanese bubble tea brand Xing Fu Tang collaborated with The Fish Hut for islandwide delivery during Covid-19.
Customers were able to order XFT’s Brown Sugar Boba Milk Tea and/or Brown Sugar Boba Oolong Milk Tea, together with a food item from The Fish Hut, Wooshi or Suparakki Ramen.
These meal combos allowed customers to enjoy bubble tea with sushi, ramen or even fish soup.
LiHO: Woo Ricebox, Paik’s Bibim, Tino’s Pizza, and Gong Yua Ma La Tang
Not to be outdone, LiHO too banded together with a list of F&B outlets for delivery which they rolled out on April 23.
Foodies were able to pair bubble tea with Korean fare from Paik’s Bibim, traditional Taiwanese riceboxes from Woo Ricebox, hand-tossed Italian inspired pizza or the mala soup from Guan Yuan Ma La Tang.
Demand for LiHO was so overwhelming that their DIY bubble kits were sold out in 3 days.
Truedan x Eggstop
Another Taiwanese bubble tea brand Truedan collaborated with Korean street toast brand Eggstop for delivery.
Truedan originated from Taiwan’s Shihlin Night Market and the Truedan franchise in Singapore is Muslim-owned, by a Singaporean named Ahmad Adam. Ahmad is also one of the owners of Egg Stop.
During the circuit breaker, customers could get one of the Egg Stop sandwiches, to be paired with Brown Sugar Fresh Milk.
Tiger Sugar x PUTIEN
Fans of Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant PUTIEN could get their famous Lor Mee or signature Fried Heng Hwa Bee Hoon with a side of brown sugar bubble milk.
Tiger Sugar is a Taiwanese brand that’s known for popularising brown sugar bubble tea here.
The food sets combined a PUTIEN main course with Tiger Sugar’s Brown Sugar Boba Milk with Cream Mousse.
They continued with the collaboration when the circuit breaker was extended for another 4 weeks.
Milksha x Yum Cha Express
It seems like the list of bubble tea collaborations goes on and on.
Milksha, another brand hailing from Taiwan partnered up with Yum Cha Express for islandwide delivery during the pandemic.
Yum Cha Express is the delivery arm of Yum Cha Restaurants.
Customers were able to order a variety of dim sums and other Chinese dishes, to be paired with Milksha’s signature bubble tea offerings such as Fresh Taro Milk and Earl Grey Latte.
Orders have been “overwhelming” since its collaboration with Yum Cha was launched, said Joseph Lim, general manager of Sinpoint Holdings, which holds the master franchise for Milksha Singapore.
CHICHA San Chen x Yu Kee Duck Rice
CHICHA San Chen (吃茶三千) collaborated with Singaporean duck rice brand Yu Kee at Connexis to offer islandwide delivery via GrabFood.
In fact, the Yu Kee Group brought in the Taiwanese bubble tea brand to Singapore.
Thanks to Covid-19, the Seah siblings of Yu Kee invigorated the 60-year old Yu Kee Braised Duck Rice with traditional freshly brewed teas.
Today, foodies can still get their hands on the CHICHA San Chen and Yu Kee bento sets from Oddle.
The Alley: Chir Chir, Masizzim, Nipong Naepong
The Alley Singapore partnered KFood Holdings, the parent company of multiple F&B concepts here, to offer islandwide delivery.
Food blog Ladyironchef has even called it “the ultimate circuit breaker feast”.
Gong Cha: Sushi Express, COLLIN’S, Chatterbox, Chen’s Mapo Tofu, Wolf Burgers
Singaporean favourite Gong Cha partnered with a multitude of F&B merchants to deliver bubble tea during the circuit breaker period.
They are Express by Chatterbox, Chen’s Mapo Tofu, and Wolf Burgers.
Foodies were able to enjoy bubble tea with a variety of different cuisines.
Each-A-Cup: ENAQ, Chuan Shi Dai, Pontian
Local bubble tea brand Each-A-Cup partnered with 3 F&B brands during the circuit breaker period.
Customers living in the West could order at least one food item from prata shop ENAQ or steamboat restaurant Chuan Shi Dai in order to purchase Each-A-Cup bubble tea.
Alternatively, foodies could also enjoy Pontian Noodles sets with Each-A-Cup bubble tea.
Playmade x Jiak By Jin Feng
Another collaboration is braised pork rice brand Jiak by Jin Feng with fellow Taiwanese bubble tea brand PlayMade.
Jiak by Jin Feng located at Ang Mo Kio Hub is related to the famous Jin Feng Braised Pork Rice in Taipei.
Jin Feng is probably one of the most well-known eateries in Taipei known to serve up Lu Rou Fan (Braised Pork Rice).
Industrious As It Is Resilient
If any good came out of Covid-19, it’s the fact that F&B players are tapping on the power of collaboration more than ever.
These collaborations have clearly displayed that the F&B industry is as industrious as it is resilient.
Coming together as a matter of survival pushed the industry to create bigger and better things under pressure.
In fact, the Covid-19 pandemic might have a silver lining. It exposed gaps in the F&B sector and emphasised the importance of digitalisation and innovation.
As a result, F&B businesses can be more prepared in the future should another crisis befalls.
Featured Image Credit: Burpple / Timeout / Meatsmith SG / Foodies vs the world / KOI / Milksha