|Flavours of Malaysia Announces Closing In December |
|By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff|
02:29AM / Wednesday, October 21, 2020
|Flavours of Malaysia will be closing in December. |
The restaurant isn't offering takeout alcohol, which can be a major revenue driver for most restaurants.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — COVID-19 has taken its toll on popular fusion restaurant Flavours of Malaysia, which says it will be closing its doors for good in December.
Owners Sabrina Tan and Chin Lee said they were staying open long enough to allow them to pay off their debts and for any gift certificate holders to use them.
"We decided to call it quits because we want to pay everybody that we owe, and then at least go out with dignity," Tan said on Tuesday.
Similar to many downtown Pittsfield restaurants, Flavours does a majority of its business in the summer.
Tanglewood and other local theaters attracted tourists that kept the family restaurant in good shape until the following season, getting them through the slower winters. But with the novel coronavirus pandemic, Tanglewood, theaters and museums were closed or canceled and downtown Pittsfield experienced a rapid decline in foot traffic.
Flavours' sales dropped 60-70 percent. In pre-COVID times, the restaurant could sit 70 to 90 diners in its large space; with reduced capacity regulations, it can only fit 20.
So it's been operating under a mostly take out model. Occasionally it will have a few tables, but nothing like the turnout it used to have.
Tan, the chef, said they are also hurting because of the lack of alcohol sales. Flavours is not offering takeout alcohol, which eliminates a huge part of sales that they depend on. "All bars, all restaurants, depend on alcohol," she said.
Though Flavours' profits have declined rapidly through the pandemic, it still has the same bills to pay, and it's just not enough, the couple said.
Flavours has been serving authentic Malaysian food since 2007. Tan and Lee started off in the Econo Lodge in Lenox but because of the location's lack of visibility, they moved to the current location on McKay Street in 2009. Business has been steady up until COVID-19 hit and Flavours was forced to heavily reduce capacity and be mainly takeout.
"The food I cook here is the food I get back home," said Tan, who was born and raised in Malaysia.
Malaysian food is very diverse because Malaysia is a melting pot of cultures. There is a mixture of Asian, Southeast Asian, Chinese, Indian, Portuguese, and Australian people residing in Malaysia who contribute to the cuisine.
Malaysia is a tropical climate so Flavours' food uses a lot of herbs such as lemongrass, turmeric, and curry leaves. Tan describes the curry as being full of herbs from "her back yard" meaning her home back in Malaysia.
After the restaurant closes, Tan and Lee say they will miss their customers the most. They have made many friends through the course of owning Flavours, and Tan describes them as kind of a family.
They hinted of an end on their Facebook page after getting a TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice Award in September ("nothing lasts forever") and on Monday announced on the page their closure: "It is with sadness that we have made the tough decision to permanently close the doors to Flavours end of December 2020."
"I love to cook, that is my passion," Tan said. "And we are sociable people, all of our customers become our friends."
Flavours does not have definite date planned for closing, but they estimate it will be in mid- to late December.
After the closing, Tan will exercise her other passions helping in the community. The couple are well know for their support of community activities and fundraising efforts. She plans to volunteer for the Elizabeth Freeman Center and local soup kitchen for some time before jumping into another career.