Covid-19: Surviving the Downtime with Industry Peers – The Old Man Hong Kong

We are living in interesting times. The impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality business is unprecedented. In light of the unique circumstances we find ourselves in, we thought it would be helpful to gather learnings and insights from industry veterans in hopes that we can help each other out. Have stories and insights to share? Let us know at

Set the Tables
“Kill the virus, not the business. Kill the virus, not our passion.” Image credit: The Old Man Hong Kong.

Helmed by esteemed industry veterans Agung Prabowo, James Tamang and Roman Ghale, The Old Man Hong Kong (listed No. 1 on Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2019, No. 9 on World’s 50 Best Bars 2019) is inspired by famed author and infamous tippler Ernest Hemingway with a distinctly Asian touch. Time Out Hong Kong describes the bar as “the convivial cocktail haven that Hong Kong needs”. The cocktails, affectionately titled after Hemingway’s classics, display the founding “old man’s” passion and appreciation for fine literature. The bar has since expanded its presence into Singapore’s Keong Saik Road last February under the purview of founder and managing partner Andrew Yap.

Some notable favourites include The Sun Also Rises – 1929,  inspired the tropical concoction of coconut oil fat-washed applejack, curry leaf infused Gin, sweet vermouth sous-vide pandan leaves and lime kaffir. For a combination of rotovap sea, clear spice cherry tomato, coconut, basil-tomato seeds ‐ oyster leaf infused in cheesewax, A Moveable Feast – 1964 is a savoury treat. Find out more here

An Open Letter

By Agung Prabowo, founder & Co-Owner, The Old Man HK & SG

What a challenging time not only for The Old Man but for the industry.

This pandemic has tremendously dampened our sales and the morale of the team as we are unable to achieve more revenue and at the same time, we’re afraid for our own safety as well as that of our family. Adding to that, we are also afraid of what’s going to happen to our livelihood if we can’t ride out this unforeseen and unpredictable time.

It’s not easy running a small business like ours. It is also not all about making money and saving costs. We just want our businesses to survive until this pandemic is over without affecting our beloved guests’ experience and without sacrificing our staff members.

As owner and operator of the bar, I should be smart enough in managing the financial strategy towards this crisis: Cash flow is king!

The Old Man’s business strategies:

  • Order below our minimum level of par stock. 
  • Get rid of slow-moving items by featuring them on daily specials and soon, we are going to do takeaway or home delivery of cocktails/booze if the government stops our operations. Look out for updates here. 
  • Request a rent deduction from our landlord. It could be a 30-35% reduction or dividing this month’s rent over the next 12 months. We must find any way to maintain cash flow.
  • Enquire about business loans. During this time, the government will have initiatives subsidising financial institutes, allowing them to offer business loans with very little interest payment. Also, the screening process will usually be expedited. 
  • Reducing the amount of petty cash, we must make sure that every dollar is saved.
  • Have talks with all the suppliers to see if they can extend payment terms.  .
  • Inform the staff during this time to try not to offer discounts to the guests but instead to offer value – it is better to give them an extra shot. Every penny counts. 

The Old Man’s number one priority is to keep our staff and guests safe:

  • We have enough face masks for all working staff
  • We are conducting temperature checks on all staff and guests before entering our premises, something we have announced on social media. Anyone above 37.5C will not be allowed to enter the premises.
  • Disinfecting surfaces before and after each guest is seated 
  • We hand hand-sanitizer to all the guests upon being seated 

The Old Man’s call for as much support as our guests can offer: 

 The Old Man HK$500, HK$1000, HK$1,500 drink vouchers are available

  • We would love our guests to help us by purchasing drink vouchers online
  • The HK$500, HK$1000, HK$1,500 vouchers purchased will have no expiration date which allows our guests to use the vouchers anytime
  • To purchase, guests can message us directly via Facebook, Instagram and email

Delivery & Self Pick-Ups (coming soon in early April. Visit here for updates) 

  • We will be offering takeaways whereby guests can call in to order their cocktails for self pick-up at the venue or for delivery by our team members (to reduce contact with third party delivery services for carrying our products and reducing cross-contamination)
  • Selected cocktails are available at special prices. Customers can expect the same experience they will have at the bar. It won’t be just a takeaway bottle or canned cocktail. We are providing the full experience of The Old Man to our guests at home by giving them garnish, ice blocks alongside disposable bar equipment. Included are clear instructions on how to make the cocktail at home, and the expiry period.

The most important thing in this challenging time, always STAY POSITIVE, never ever let your team morale stay down and always work together with other bars around you!

Stay safe and healthy!

Agung Prabowo, Founder & Co-Owner, The Old Man Hong Kong & Singapore 

Set the Tables
“I drink to make other people more interesting.”― Ernest Hemingway.




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