Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Straits Times : No more chats over bread and kopi

The Straits Times
By Kash Cheong
25th May 2013

Hua Bee, which has been operating for more than 70 years, will close in the middle of next month. -- PHOTOS: DESMOND LUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

HUA Bee coffee shop, nestled in a corner of Moh Guan Terrace, is more than just a place to get food.

It is a neighbourhood icon close to the hearts of many Tiong Bahru residents, some of whom have set up a Facebook page called "We Love Hua Bee".

"I will miss Hua Bee," said retiree Ng Ah Bah, 78, who has been a loyal patron for the last 66 years.

The coffee shop, which has been operating for more than 70 years, will close in mid-June. It has only two stalls - one selling drinks, the other noodles.

Greeting your neighbour by name is common, so is chit-chatting over steamed bread and butter with coffee. Some customers even help clear the tables.

"When I was away on holiday and friends wanted to send me cakes, I told them to leave them at Hua Bee," said Mr Ng.

"When visitors can't find my home, I just tell them to come into Hua Bee and ask Tony."

For drinks stall owner Tony Tiang, who has helped to serve coffee and more since he was a child, closing the shop was a difficult decision.

Known as "Uncle Tony" to his regulars, the 58-year-old inherited the business from his father and uncle.

"I will miss my customers. Some of them watched me grow, others taught me English," he said. But renting out the place would be more profitable than his current business, he added.

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