In the middle of a quiet, residential Hillview neighbourhood is a British restaurant and pub. It is inspired by the heritage of Cornwall, England, which has a long history of pirates pillaging ships along its rocky coast. Founded by the late Briton James Hosking and his Singaporean wife then Jessica Hosking, The Jolly Roger opened in June 2012.
This local family-run business serves home-cooked British fare and drinks to a loyal clientele of customers, who often bring their families to enjoy the pirate-themed ambience over a round of pool (yes there’s a pool table!).
According to Jonathan Tessensohn, Restaurant Manager at The Jolly Roger, “We are a chilled, un-pretentious neighbourhood pub that is inclusive and allows everyone to be themselves. We provide a sense of community and are also socially conscious. We are known for good British fare so our popular dishes include the full English breakfast, Fish and Chips, Sirloin Steak, The English roast with Yorkshire pudding and The Jolly Roger burger.”
Customers can enjoy a wide range of beers on tap (the Czech Pilsner is a crowd favourite), and craft beers in bottles. Cocktails are available too. Besides the specially-created Long Island Ice Tea and the popular Bloody Mary, you can request for a personalised cocktail.
As part of its initiatives as an environmentally-friendly restaurant, The Jolly Roger has introduced new plant-based dishes into its menu, such as the plant-based English breakfast, vegan pies, and the plant-based Jolly Roger burger.
Explaining how the restaurant is moving towards sustainability, Jessica said, “The Jolly Roger believes in being a responsible business that takes into consideration environmental and social impact. Our energy is powered by the sun so we are carbon neutral.
“All our food packaging is from bio-material and we have many more sustainability initiatives that we will be rolling out in coming months,” she added.
Its sustainability efforts also include a redesign of jobs to be more productive and smarter. This is especially timely considering Singapore’s lean manpower challenges and an Industry 4.0 economic transformation that has hastened due to Covid-19 pandemic.
This year, The Jolly Roger has transitioned from its original point-of-sales (POS) system to a new one. This has saved them around two to three hours of work every single day.
Jessica explained, “We faced productivity challenges because the POS system we were using was from 2012 and it restricted us from improving our workflow and processes. It was not connected to the cloud nor did it provide updated reports on the sales performance and inventory status of the restaurant.
“We decided to partner e2i in a productivity scheme (WorkPro Job Redesign Initiative) which enabled us to purchase new software and equipment to completely retrofit our POS systems,” she said.
At The Jolly Roger, I received a demonstration of how staff use the new tablets to input orders real time. The tablet showed a visual layout of the tables so staff can readily tap on the correct table when taking an order.
Once a table has been selected, the user is directed to a screen reflecting The Jolly Roger’s menu items coupled with their prices. This allows staff members to take customized orders for that specific table on the spot.
The order was sent virtually to another tablet in the kitchen which would sound an alert to prompt kitchen staff to check and prepare the order. The tablets were also linked to the cashier POS where bills could be pulled up quickly to process customer payment.
One of the best things about the new POS system is that information on the sales and inventory can be automatically generated and tabulated in the desired formats. This occurs within minutes for analysis and with minimal error compared to handwritten records and excels.
Jonathan observed, “This allowed us to improve our productivity dramatically as orders can now be taken digitally from iPads and expedited to the kitchen digitally for our chefs to prepare the food items.
“I had much better oversight on the sales and inventory reports and it enabled me to make better decisions for the restaurant. The experience with e2i was great as they were very helpful.”.
Although it took a while for The Jolly Roger staff to get used to the new system, productivity significantly improved once they were trained on it. Jonathan added that the team was able to dedicate time saved to other revenue-generating activities, such as marketing the restaurant and thinking of other ways to improve the products and services.
Jessica also said, “Covid-19 hit us very badly, and to date the restaurant is still operating at a loss. But despite the lockdown and various difficulties, we did not let go of any of our staff. The Jobs Support Scheme helped us to be able to keep staff on payroll, and we have since re-opening tried to improve our products and services such as introduce new menu items, as well as do more marketing, to stay afloat.”
“We also moved to online delivery platforms such as foodpanda for additional revenue. The current 1030pm curfew has affected our sales badly, and we have not seen revenue return to pre-Covid levels and we hope this can be relaxed as Singapore continues to address the pandemic,” she elaborated.
During the Circuit Breaker period, The Jolly Roger ran food and beverage promotions on social media. Subsequently, when Circuit Breaker ended, The Jolly Roger boosted efforts to have a stronger presence on social media to let their customers know that The Jolly Roger had opened. They also had to adjust their operating hours to attract the lunch crowd.
Credit goes to The Jolly Roger’s business philosophy for enabling this restaurant to overcome its various challenges over the years. Jessica mused, “We have learnt that we need to be versatile and able to respond quickly to changing circumstances, and that we should continually invest into systems and training that will help our staff keep good jobs and continually improve themselves.”
To learn more about The Jolly Roger, visit www.thejollyroger.org
Special thanks to The Jolly Roger for the invitation and the interview. Featured photo courtesy of The Jolly Roger.