Small cosy cafes used to be the in thing, along with design features such as red brick walls, dim lighting and exposed wiring. Now, owners are looking for larger, brighter, greener spaces boasting higher ceilings, which preferably also have an outdoor wing for alfresco dining.
With travel curtailed and many still telecommuting, cafes here are seeing a boom. But because of safe distancing guidelines, they now require bigger spaces to cope with the surge in customers.
At least seven outlets have expanded their current space or moved to bigger premises – including The Brewing Ground in Joo Chiat Place, Prairie by Craftsmen in Bukit Timah, and The Fabulous Baker Boy at The Aliwal Arts Centre.
They have also bulked up their menus, moving beyond the usual avocado toast brunch offerings to heartier multi-course meals and a wider selection of drinks.
Last month, popular pastry shop Tarte by Cheryl Koh reopened its flagship outlet at Shaw Centre after a two-week renovation. It is almost twice as big as the previous space, with a 38-seat dine-in area and a refreshed look.
Other cafe owners looked for bigger shop units when existing leasesended.
After closing its Fort Canning space in July last year, popular Muslim-owned cafe The Fabulous Baker Boy returned three weeks ago, with a new home at The Aliwal Arts Centre in Kampong Glam.
While the 70-seat space is about the same size as the previous location, half of the space at Fort Canning had to be used for exhibitions and events, says owner Juwanda Hassim.
The 46-year-old, who is also a theatre actor and baker, viewed many places and was looking for one that could fit at least 70 diners while observing safe distancing rules.
The cafe, which accepts reservations, is usually fully booked for the weekend by the start of the week, says Juwanda.
Safe distancing was also at the top of Shakir Mudzakker’s mind when he was sussing out a new space for his seven-year-old cafe The Bravery, which used to be in Lavender.
The cafe reopened last month in Amoy Street in a two-storey shop- house that is almost double the size of its old premises.
Shakir says: “It is difficult to predict how long the pandemic will last. We wanted a space large enough to accommodate diners with safe distancing measures in place.
“Diners are also becoming increasingly mindful of their proximity to other diners.
“With this concern in mind, we adjusted the measurements of our furniture, ensuring that tables on the first floor are narrower so there is more space between the seating area and the coffee bar.”
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