The Banquet name was (and still remains) a household name to many Singaporeans, especially the Muslims. However, this former mega-chain of halal-certified food courts has now gone bust (which I find rather unsurprising).
As the article mentioned; perhaps they were expanding too fast and the reality of high rent and manpower costs and shortages caught up with them; which ultimately left them with negative figures in the accounting sheets and such. There used to be a Banquet food court (now known as Bagus) near my place, and my family members noticed the name change but didn’t really think much about it (as we still got our fix of chicken rice, laksa and sliced fish noodle soup without any hitches). I subsequently got to know about the Causeway Point branch’s closure/revamp not too long ago (which has since re-opened and has re-named Bagus as well), and despite the often-crowded tables – especially during the weekends and mealtimes - it dawned on me (and probably hundreds and thousands of others) that Banquet was probably facing some issues.
In addition to their financial woes, the food on offer – with the rare exception of some – was often mediocre at best. Considering that they were serving local fare, their prices were astronomical (occasional increments ranging from a few cents to a dollar seemed to be the norm, not to mention an additional sum for takeaway orders), and didn’t really justify the quality and quantity of the food that was offered; more so with financial constraints that plagued individuals and families who were on the hunt for cheaper food options. Were the exorbitant prices and price increments yet another nail in Banquet’s coffin? In my opinion, most likely so.
Although the Banquet name now goes into the history books, I believe that the chain of halal food-court concept of eateries looks set to continue under a different management and name; such as the aforementioned Bagus (which falls under the Kopitiam arm), while successfully retaining most (if not all) of the aunties and uncles who were in Banquet’s payroll.
For now, we’ll just have to wait and see what NTUC Foodfare and other chains will name their newly- acquired branches, or whether they will even consider continuing the halal food-court concept.Related reads: http://news.asiaone.com/News/Latest+News/Singapore/Story/A1Story20120809-364362.html