The last of Singapore’s old-style Kopitiams is expecting to cease operations to make way for development.
Located at 59 Jalan Benaan Kapal near the Kallang Indoor Stadium, the unassuming shipyard style canteen has served thousands of Singaporeans over the years and has earned a place in the hearts of many, with it’s ridiculously low prices, nostalgia-inducing food and beverages and kindly shopkeepers.
About 10 stalls at the Jalan Benaan Kapal food centre – which remains modern Singapore’s oldest food centres – serve a variety of Singapore favorites, from Kopi that costs $0.50, Kopi and toast sets for $1 and a plethora of other local dishes like chicken rice, nasi padang, lontong, and mee goreng.
Unfortunately, shopkeepers have apparently been told that they will need to clear their stalls by next June.
Facebook user Ghazali Sadip shared a conversation he had with a stallholder at the Food Centre, who expressed worry over the prospect of having to move given that rent is expensive elsewhere:
“It’s been a while since I last visit my favourite kopi uncle. After all these years, he still serves kopi o and toast for only $1 per set. “we have only 1 year left to operate here. Have to clear by June next year.” he shared with me. “so where you going after this?”, I asked. “I don’t know. Everywhere else rent so expensive. Maybe got chance for extension for this place.” sounding hopeful with a tinge of sadness.”
Last year, another old-school coffeeshop had to shut down, in part due to declining business.
The owners of Hup Lee Coffee Shop at Jalan Besar sold their charming shop – best known for its traditional kaya toast, soft-boiled eggs and sock-brewed coffee and tea – which had been operating since the 1950s and closed shop in August.
The shop was run by 68-year-old Mdm Foo Mui Ma and her brother, who had inherited the business from their grandparents. According to Mdm Foo’s son, his mother – who worked 363 days a year – made the difficult decision of closing down the business due to her deteriorating health and because business had gone down significantly over the years.
The closure of the nearby Sungei Road flea market, which was located just across the road from Hup Lee, badly affected business as well.
It's been a while since I last visit my favourite kopi uncle. After all these years, he still serves kopi o and toast…