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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

More families going for early reunion dinner

Some want to beat the crowds; some plan to travel during long weekend.
The Straits Times - February 7, 2013
By: Priscilla Kham And Sue-ann Tan
| More
More families going for early reunion dinner The Teo and Heng families, potential in-laws, observing an early reunion dinner last night at Peony Jade Restaurant in Keppel Club, ahead of Chinese Year Year on Sunday as the Teo family will be away on holiday over the New Year weekend. Here seen tossing

MORE families are holding Chinese New Year reunion dinners as early as a week in advance, in order to beat restaurant crowds or to fit in holiday plans.

A check with 10 popular Chinese eateries showed that seven have received more bookings for early reunion dinners this year. For one, the spike was as high as 50 per cent.

Mr Robert Han, 55, general manager of the Quayside Group, which owns popular restaurant Peony Jade, said it has had more demand for reunion dinners three to seven days in advance over the years. This year, some families picked a date as early as Jan 30, he said. "In 2012, we had around 200 tables booked a week before the New Year; this year, we have more than 300 tables booked."

Over at the Old Geylang eatery, there were 15 per cent more bookings for dates ahead of the eve of the New Year, compared to last year, said chief executive Louie Ong, 34. Some customers prefer to eat early because they would not be in town on Feb 9 - the start of a long weekend which ends on Feb 12, he added.

"Singaporeans' love for travel means that many will be utilising the public holidays for a trip overseas and their desire to avoid surcharges would see them travelling a few days prior to the New Year," said Mr Ong.

Even early reunion lunches are getting popular, with restaurants such as Hua Ting and Peony Jade experiencing higher demand.

"Response towards reunion lunches was lukewarm last year but this year, lunches are also booked up. Diners who couldn't get dinner bookings opted for lunch because it is still better than nothing," said Mr Han.

Many opt to have these early dinners as these can be more pleasant for them and their families.

Said 42-year-old housewife Melissa Tan: "It's better to have it earlier because on the actual day, it's very crowded and noisy and we have to wait a long time for the dishes."

For the last 20 years, her family's reunion dinner had been held about a week before Chinese New Year.

Early dinners also suit those with large families. Sales manager Benny Chee, 39, whose reunion dinner is attended by 30 people, said it is easier to get everyone together on an earlier date.

This is all good news for restaurant operators, who now have a wider window to rake in higher earnings for reunion dinners, which can cost more than $700 for a table of up to 10 diners at eateries like Peony Jade.

Tradition still dictates that reunion dinners are held on the eve of the New Year but these early birds do not seem to mind.

"We do not regard it as inauspicious. We are very open-minded and my mother isn't the old-fashioned type," said Mrs Tan. "The most important thing is that we are all together," she said.


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