House of Seafood in Punggol attracted public backlash after it announced its staff walked crabs outside the restaurant, a stunt that was pulled two years after allowing customers to catch live crabs from a claw machine in 2019.
The restaurant put up photos of their crab-walking stunt, which showed a few crabs on leashes on June 18.
The antics were called out as a form of animal cruelty.
Following that incident, customers who went to the restaurant at Punggol Settlement to collect their pre-orders on Father’s Day complained about the long wait and chaotic queue situation.
In the aftermath of these two incidents, the restaurant’s chief executive officer, Francis Ng, held a Facebook Live session on June 22 to apologise for all the inconvenience caused and explained his side of story.
During the livestream, he appeared to be referring to a screen for talking points and reiterated multiple times that he was not selling his crabs via the livestream.
On the crab walking incident
Ng explained that he took six crabs out for a walk because he “sympathised” with the crabs that were tied up in the cage the whole day.
The walk lasted for about five minutes, he claimed, and four of the crabs had their claws tied up so that they would not have hurt curious passers-by, he added.
Ng added that the photos of him bringing the crabs on a walk were a “souvenir” to remember this pandemic period when his business took a great hit, even though he later said that he had opened a new outlet that required deployment of experienced staff members from the Punggol outlet.
Ng also said that when children wanted to play with the crabs, he rejected them based on animal welfare reasons.
He said that he had learnt from the claw machine incident that “if the crab’s claw drop, it is cruelty”.
He clarified that the crabs that went on the walk were not sold in the restaurant afterward but were brought home instead.
On making customers wait for pre-orders on Father’s Day
Ng then continued to address complaints made about the Father’s Day crowd.
He said that some regular customers who were “reminded” of the restaurant by the news about their crabs going for a walk contacted him directly to place orders for Father’s Day.
As they are regulars, he did not want to turn them down.
Therefore, on top of the pre-orders, he also had to deliver orders to these customers.
He added that another reason why the customers had to wait is that the crabs were cooked close to the collection time to ensure the freshness of the food.
He also clarified that the staff member who was wearing a red shirt with “Safe Distancing Officer” written at the back is not the official Safe Distancing Ambassador.
Besides ensuring safe management measures were in place, the staff member’s secondary duty is to help check orders for the customers.
During the Facebook Live session, Ng also said the restaurant is experiencing manpower issues partly due to safe management measures that resulted in a limit of 12 staff at the Punggol outlet.
Two experienced staff members were deployed to a new outlet which made the manpower crunch worse.
Adding on to that, Ng said that a staff member had just resigned after being “traumatised” by the Fathers’ Day crowd.
Staff members being overwhelmed by the orders and customer queries also led to a drop in standard of customer service as a couple of comments left on the livestream complained about poor customer service.
Ng said it is difficult to find F&B staff and sought people’s understanding. He also promised to send his staff for training to improve the quality of service.
To personally deliver vouchers or crabs to unhappy customers
In hindsight, Ng also said he would reduce the number of pre-orders in the future to a more manageable number and spread OUT the collection timeslots to avoid overcrowding.
That said, he defended that photos taken by some customers were “unfair” and did not reflect the actual number of waiting customers.
He explained that it is a common corridor and the people seen in the photos include non-customers too and after reviewing his CCTV, he did not see an issue of crowding on Father’s Day.
Toward the end of the 30-minute livestream, Ng did a shout-out to the customers who were upset over the wait or service on Father’s Day and promised to deliver vouchers or crabs to them personally.
He mentioned there were around eight of them.
If you are one of them, you can call 6466 9000 to look for Ng.
Top image via House of Seafood/Facebook