SINGAPORE: One company is stepping up the waterfront dining experience - by taking mealtime onto the waters in donut-shaped boats.
This comes as a new regulatory sandbox by the Pro-Enterprise Panel (PEP) was announced on Friday (Nov 23), allowing The Floating Donut Company to operate its three-boat fleet in Marina Bay.
The firm, which also operates in Phuket, said it is the first to offer such a private outdoor dining experience in Singapore.
However, the project was initially stalled for three years, after its German founder, Ms Miriam Becker, hit roadblocks with several local regulatory agencies.
“It was really hard for me in the beginning because I didn’t know which agencies to approach. I had some who said from the beginning: ‘Sorry, no, that's not going to work’,” she said.
According to Ms Becker, the agencies, including the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, the Urban Redevelopment Authority and the PUB, had various concerns ranging from passenger safety to potential water pollution.
“That was a big challenge to get them all to the table, to ask what the problems are and what we can do to make this work.
“That’s where the Pro-Enterprise Panel came in and said: ‘Let’s sit together and try to find a solution',” said Ms Becker, who moved to Singapore nine years ago.
That solution took the form of a six-month trial in a regulatory sandbox.
The company also made compromises by tweaking its proposal - including replacing its boats’ barbecue grills with prepared meals, to avoid potentially polluting the water.
The boats must also adhere to speed limits and other safety measures.
Pointing to this instance, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Mr Chee Hong Tat said: “Whenever there’s a new idea, it’s likely it will push against regulatory boundaries.”
He added that regulators’ concerns are often valid, so the challenge is to address these concerns while allowing innovative ideas to take flight.
But according to Mr Chee, Singapore can do well in this area, as it is small and compact.
“One of our key strengths is good coordination between government agencies ... We differentiate ourselves from our competitors through the use of smart regulations to be able to have the best of both worlds – safety, quality and supporting innovative ideas,” he said.
The Floating Donut Company launches operations on Nov 30.