PETALING JAYA: Popular mamak restaurants around the Klang Valley are ready to resume 24-hour business from April 1, but plan to ease into it over the month of Ramadan.

With the worker shortage problem still unresolved, many plan to make do with skeleton staff during the first half of the day and only go full capacity after the breaking of fast.

They hope that the worker shortage problem can be overcome by the time Hari Raya Aidilfitri rolls around in May.

Original Penang Kayu Nasi Kandar managing director Burhan Mohamed said they would only be opening two to three outlets near housing areas for 24 hours.

This was because they had to think about how to manage the restaurants with the number of workers available, he said.

“We cannot afford to open all our outlets for 24 hours, but sahur (pre-dawn meal) could be a crucial time during Ramadan. We are still waiting for workers to come in before the fasting month begins.

“We have opted to use robots, but only for serving food and not for taking orders as robots cannot engage customers efficiently.

“The shortage of workers is at 60% across all of our outlets. Some workers also like to jump from one place to another depending on who is offering them a higher salary,” Burhan added.

Q Bistro owner Riyasutin Mohammed Dulkif said customers were already asking them to open for 24 hours.

However, he said they were still trying to figure out how to manage the worker shortage.

“Perhaps we will only open from 3pm until sahur during the fasting month. We are shorthanded but demand is high. That is our dilemma,” he said.

Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association (Presma) president Datuk Jawahar Ali Taib Khan agreed.

He said that during the movement control order period, there was no business but now that business was booming again, there were no workers.

He added that there was still no light at the end of the tunnel when it came to manpower.

“It will be hard for businesses to operate because this is a service industry. How are we going to serve and ensure that the standard operating procedures are observed if we don’t have enough people to do the work?

“The government did say we could perhaps employ rehabilitated addicts or prisoners, but we have still not found suitable candidates,” he said.

Mamak food lovers may be able to get their nightly fix of food and football from April 1, but the non-Muslims who plan to have brunch, lunch or an early evening meal look likely to be disappointed.