At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, when dining establishments and watering holes were permanently shuttering their doors, Lynn Yeow and Lyla Lin knew they had to do something. So, they started #SaveFnBSG, a loose independent coalition of restaurants that helped each other to tide through the crisis.

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Now, the restaurants are giving back to the community with Hi5SG, a non-profit dining campaign. From now until January 2021, more than 30 restaurants, bars, and cafes, which include Level33, Smoke and Mirrors, and Zafferano Italian, are coming together to roll out special dining experiences themed around the number five, a nod to the current five-person dining rule.

We chat with Yeow and Lin about this new initiative supported by Enterprise Singapore.

Lynn Yeow (left) and Lyla Lin. Credit Courtesy

How did this pandemic change your perception of Singapore?

Lin: Nothing quite as character-defining as a global pandemic – the true grit and resilience of Singaporeans has shone brightly through this dark cloud. We’ve seen that Singaporeans are ready to extend assistance to those who need more help. The kampong spirit is very much alive, especially in our #SaveFnBSG movement, which has proved to be the lifeline of sorts for many restaurateurs and related businesses, big and small alike.

Community members assisted each other where they could, from business advice and regulatory updates to inventory and supplier recommendations – the conviction and spirit of everyone coming together to weather this storm is truly admirable and a great learning point.

How does Hi5SG aim to further #SaveFnBSG’s Mission and goals?

Lin: Hi5SG distils the same essence of #SaveFnBSG: it’s about coming together as one, to support each other in good and bad times. Ultimately right from the start of initiating #savefnbsg, both Lynn and myself believe in creating a “loop” of positivity and community.

F&B businesses, many of these also members of the #SaveFnBSG movement, are all coming together to support one another and those in need. They are rolling out special dining experiences themed around the number “5” designed for up to 5 pax – we want to emphasize the importance of cooperation: restaurants and diners all cooperating with social distancing rules, diners cooperating with restaurants and vice versa.

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Hi5SG also aims to support vulnerable communities in Singapore through this collective effort that quite literally leaves no man behind. Part of the proceeds from the Hi5SG experiences goes to charity, with selected restaurants doing their parts equally by providing a matching.

The campaign’s official beneficiary is =DREAMS. The sister organisation of South Central Community Family Service Centre, =DREAMS is a residential-based intensive educational program that mentors underprivileged children in order to rechart their lives for a bright future. They are amongst Singapore’s most neglected communities, as they are from families living in HDB rental flats living on low incomes with little to none financial support.

Some of these children may even someday enter the F&B industry in different ways – the most exemplary outcome of the effort that the industry is committed to and the proof of this positive loop of engagement.

Part of the proceeds from the Hi5SG experiences goes to charity, with selected restaurants doing their parts equally by providing a matching. Credit Courtesy

Why did you select =DREAMS as the organisation you wanted to support?

Yeow: I have been a volunteer with the South Central Community Family Service Center (SCC) since Oct 2019, helping with their education program. I was introduced to them since I was looking at specifically helping lower-income families with children in Singapore. As a mother of four young boys, I appreciate the importance of education and that has been a big motivating factor of my support for this cause.

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Our involvement is driven by our shared personal belief in the need for these initiatives, and to see the goals of these projects being achieved gives us greater hope to change difficult situations to the best of our abilities.

How do you think this initiative will move forward after the effects of the pandemic subsides and we head into normalcy?

Lin: We hope that the spirit of camaraderie remains – the same level of collaboration, the same level of inclusivity, the same level of helpfulness will continue into the future.

There’ll always be a status quo to challenge, positive changes to make, for us to improve Singapore’s hospitality and F&B industry as we continue to shine on the world stage. Even without issues like a pandemic to tackle, we can still come together as one to make Singapore F&B industry a better place for all – those working in it, and those enjoying it.

This article first appeared in The Peak