What to Read Next

Religion and Superstitions In The Dining Business

Sheere Ng
27 March 2013

Text and images by Sheere Ng @ Makansutra

Why do customers not see the kitchen in older restaurants? Why do waitresses escort customers to their tables only through a certain route, albeit a longer one? Why are cash registers placed at where they are?

Idiosyncrasies and habits they may seem to be but these are measured moves for better luck – an important element (besides having a good chef and a favourable location) of running a successful restaurant/café. Rather than waiting for lady luck to arrive, it is common amongst restaurants to seek religious and superstitious help. The common wishes are smooth operations, harmonious working relationships between employees and, most importantly, bigger profits.

Most Chinese restaurateurs, and increasingly non-Chinese business owners too, will turn to Feng Shui, a Chinese geomancy that relies on spatial arrangements to attract positive energy to the restaurants.

Religion and Superstitions In The Dining Business
View photos
Religion and Superstitions In The Dining Business

Things that Feng Shui masters will advise their clients include:

1. Placing the stove at a strategic spot, preferably not directly in front of the basin, freezer or toilet as they are associated with the “water element”. “The F&B industry is typically symbolised by the fire element. Therefore, it should not come into conflict with the water element,” says Mr Lim Eng Cheong, a Feng Shui master of Chang Consultancy LLP.

Another master, Mr Michael Teo of I Ching Feng Shui Consultancy, adds that it is inauspicious to see the stove upon entering the restaurant, which is why kitchens are traditionally located at the back of the premise.

2. Locating the cashier in the wealth sector of the restaurant to increase business volume and luck.

3. Arranging tables according to their shapes, as they symbolise different elements, says Mr Lim. Thus, tables have to be placed in harmony with the different sections of the restaurant. For example, it is good to place rectangular tables (symbolises wood element) at the southern sector, where the fire element is favoured, as wood supports fire (木生火).

4. Ushering customers through a specific flow or route to enhance the positive energies and alleviate the negative ones.

Religion and Superstitions In The Dining Business
View photos
Religion and Superstitions In The Dining Business

Like Feng Shui, Indian’s Vastu Shrasta is based on directional alignment and compatibility to the five elements (fire, water, earth, air and space) that the world is believed to be divided into. For example, stoves are placed in the restaurant’s fire sector, or Agni, to prevent knee problem, back pain and stress amongst the female members of business. The cashier, however, cannot be place in the Agni or the business will suffer.

Muthu’s Curry is one Indian restaurant that employs these basic Vastu principles. “It can be as elaborate as where to put your chopping board or to store your drinks,” says Mdm Veshali Visanaath, Marketing Director of the restaurant. “But because we don’t believe in this superstition so much, we don’t go into such details. We applied the basic principles because the older generation wanted to.”

Mdm Veshali adds that business at their Race Course Road outlet, where they applied the Vastu principles, has been good, but she wouldn’t give all credits to Vastu, as she thinks that the efforts they put in marketing the restaurant and improving the service play a bigger role.

Among Malay restaurants, Muslim owners are guided by their religion. Chef Aziza Ali, who owned Singapore’s first Malay restaurant, Aziza’s Restaurant, says she used to recite from the Quran in her heart before stepping into her restaurant. “As the owner of the restaurant, it is important for me to practise it to exude good energy,” she says. Her staff would also take turns to recite from the Quran before they opened for business every day.

Once in a while, she invites an imam and some elders from the mosque to conduct tahlil at her restaurant. The ritual is commonly conducted in Muslims’ homes to thank god for everything. Unlike her Indian and Chinese counterparts, Aziza did not pray specifically for better business but blessings in general.

Similarly, in restaurants own by devoted Christians, customers are likely to see a bible verse meant to seek strength and blessing, instead of revenue, in the premise. At Savour, for example, the verse “whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” is printed in the menu. Co-owner Mr Joshua Khoo says “it reminds us to serve god the best we can serve”, which naturally translates into serving the highest standard food to customers.

While table arrangements and prayers may bring certain benefits to the business, restaurateurs hoping to rely solely on divination may want to think twice. “I think the baseline is still to ensure that the customers have a pleasant dining experience, enjoy the food and want to come back for more,” says Mr Lim.

Military Mortgage Rates In 2016

Rates as Low as 2.75% (3.028% APR) 15 Year Fixed. Exclusive For Veteran & Military Takes 1 Min!

Banks Are Worried Homeowners Will Do This.

Homeowners are surprised and furious. If you owe less than $625,000 on your home, you better read this.

Kid sleep troubles email series for moms

We get it. We’ve been there. Sign up for our email track to learn how to handle kids who won’t go to sleep or won’t stay in bed.

How To Make Sagging Skin Look Tight and Lifted

[Watch] The easy and effective way consumers across the country are improving the look of their wrinkled and sagging skin without cosmetic procedures.

Your second chance to enroll in Medicare & Medigap

Seniors can sign up for Medicare & Medigap now during the General Enrollment Period.

How Older Men Tighten Their Skin

Men, reduce the look of wrinkles, sagging skin and fine lines with this affordable and effective skin tightening treatment without leaving your home.

Darren Wang denies Jackie Chan's involvement

Meng Ting-li donates organs after death

Powerful Tactical Flashlight Flying Off Shelves!

This new tactical flashlight was just released to the public and is flying off shelves in the United States. Limited supplies left, act quick!

VA Mortgage Rates In 2016

VA Rates as Low as 2.75% (3.028% APR) 15 Year Fixed. Exclusive For Veteran & Military Takes 1 Min!

Starwood Credit Card

Earn 25,000 Bonus Starpoints®! Use toward Award Nights or Flights.

Is your insurance comp Laughing Behind Your Back?

New Studies Show that if you drive less than 55 miles a day you can save a ton on auto insurance.

Looking To Buy New Car Tires?

Confidently buy Goodyear® tires online with help from the experts! We'll help you find and compare tires based on your vehicle or tire size.

Toddler tantrum email series for moms

We get it. We’ve been there. Sign up for our email track for advice on how to handle different situations that may arise with your little one.

Missed Open Enrollment? You can still buy Medigap!

The Medicare Open Enrollment Period isn't the only time to buy Medigap coverage. You can actually buy at any time of the year.

Free Samples Sites- Why You Should Pay Attention

Sign up now for freebies so good you will feel guilty not paying for them! No credit card or purchase necessary.