I saw this old coffee shop at 114 Jalan Besar when I was walking around the Bugis / Rochor / Jalan Besar areas on Thursday. I went in to order a cup of hot tea with milk that cost S$0.80, sat down and started to guess how long it has been in business. But, this two-storey shophouse may not be a coffee shop when it was first built though. A man sitting behind me said the building could have been around since 1920s. Many of the buildings along Jalan Besar have been given conservation status. This one could be one of them. Not sure.
The woman in the background in the photo below whom I thought was the owner of the coffee shop took a break, had her own drink and chatted with the customers. She would be busy making drinks for her customers otherwise. When I returned the next day unplanned, I asked her in Hokkien dialect how long the coffee shop had been in operation to which she said she didn’t know because she was just an employee, not the owner.
I always love old places like this and always want to know more about it. I will return there again and hopefully meet someone who can tell me more about the history of this coffee shop.
During my second visit the next morning, I met this man who came in and asked if he could sit at my table. I think that’s what he asked me. He spoke in Mandarin. He seemed to like to chat and started asking me questions in Mandarin. After knowing I don’t understand Mandarin, he switched to Malay mixed with some English and Hokkien. I still could not understand him completely though, but picked up few things he said. He came from China in 1950 and used to work in Malaysia and Indonesia many years ago if I understand him correctly. He also talked a bit about politics when he talked about US, China and Singapore. US is afraid of China, he said, but I could not understand his reason when he explained it. He then went on trying to be a fortune teller when he analysed my facial features. Lovely old man who seemed to be lonely but was happy to meet someone he could talk to that morning. Bless you, uncle.