Hup Lee coffee shop to close for good on Aug 22

This article is more than 12 months old

Hup Lee, one of the last few old-school coffee shops in Singapore, will close on Aug 22.

The shophouse has been sold and its co-owner Foo Mui Ya, 68, will be retiring.

The coffee shop in Jalan Besar is known for kaya toast grilled over a charcoal fire, soft-boiled eggs and traditional sock-brewed coffee and tea.

Madam Foo's son, Mr Cheong Mun Loong, 34, told The Straits Times that one reason for the business closing down is his mother's deteriorating health.

The shophouse, which was co-owned by Madam Foo and her younger brother, whom Mr Cheong did not name, had been sold in mid-May for an undisclosed sum.

Mr Cheong said his uncle had wanted to sell the shophouse for the past few years, but there had been no buyers. He believes the new owners will use the space for a restaurant.

Hup Lee's business has gone down over the years, he added.

The closure of the Sungei Road flea market across the road last month has also affected business.

Mr Cheong said: "My mother works every day of the year, except for the first two days of Chinese New Year. She may be tough but she is getting old and needs to take it easy."

Hup Lee has been operating since the 1950s and was started by Mr Cheong's great-grandparents, who owned the shop space.

They passed it to Madam Foo and her brother in 1976.

Mr Cheong's father, Mr Cheong Leong Sing, 69, also works in the coffee shop.

The younger Mr Cheong, who helps out at the coffee shop occasionally, said that in the eyes of regular customers, his mother is the only person who does the coffee and toast right.

He said: "She would take a teaspoon, scoop some of the coffee and let it trickle to see how thick it is. Based on her judgment, she would add more water if necessary.

"For the toast, she would flip the bread a few times to ensure that it is evenly brown and toasted. She's very particular about consistency."

Hup Lee coffee shop in 114, Jalan Besar opens from 10am to 8pm daily. Its last day of operations is on Aug 22.