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A Retired Banker in Singapore Was Looking for His Next Venture. He Found It by Reviving a Dying Trade: Traditional Coffee Shops.

Woon Tek Seng, an immigrant from Hainan, Singapore, grew up in the 1950s and spent his mornings at a quaint coffee shop on Killiney Road. In 1992, he learned that the owner of the coffee shop was closing, and he decided to buy the business and revive it. Today, Killiney Kopitiam is one of Singapore’s most successful chains.

In the 1950s, over 2,000 traditional coffee shops were found across the city-state, but only 776 remain today. The store, now known as Killiney Kopitiam, is one of the oldest in Singapore and is located in the heart of Orchard, Singapore’s shopping district. The store has a modest exterior with a distinctive brown canopy at the entrance and inside with rusty wall fans, tiny wooden stools, and a well-stocked kitchen.

Kopitiams are known for their traditional breakfast, which includes coffee or tea, two slices of white toast smothered with kaya, a coconut jam, and two brown eggs served in the shell. On average, Killiney sells around 1,000 beverages a day, mostly traditional coffee and tea, with many customers in their 20s and 30s.

As chunks of Singapore’s traditional coffee shop scene fade away into history, they are being replaced by the same big-name stores found across the globe. Killiney Kopitiam is one of the rare, small outliers that has managed to cement a spot for itself, expanding to 35 outlets across Singapore and several overseas, including one in Palo Alto, California.

Woon’s nephew, Tien Yuan, has taken over the reins as the company’s director, aiming to keep growing the business while staying true to kopi culture. He believes people still look for authenticity and hopes Killiney will leave a lasting legacy as he prepares for retirement.

Read More @ MSN

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