Versatile spaces for food, work and play
SEVERAL new multi-purpose spaces with dining options have popped up around Singapore, offering locations for uses ranging from events to shared workspaces.
223A Upper Thomson Road
Habitat Coffee - a coffee joint in Upper Thomson Road - has been wowing fans since 2011 with its specially blended coffee and hip cool vibe. No wonder, then, that the cafe often gets requests from customers who want to hold events there.
"We could not accommodate those requests as we did not want to close off the cafe to the walk-in crowd," says Benjamin Ng, a partner at Habitat.
Enter Top Deck, an event space located above Habitat.
"We have been thinking about expanding the business, but know that we didn't want to open another cafe, especially when there are so many cafes around," says Mr Ng. When the space above Habitat became available, they decided to turn it into an event space.
Since it opened last month, Top Deck has hosted private events such as birthday parties and gatherings, as well as corporate events, including a team-building event and a Christmas gathering. It recently hosted a charity fund-raising concert. Top Deck will soon host its first wedding solemnisation.
Top Deck is specifically designed to be an event space. The space is squarish, largely column free and has a high ceiling. It has modular and stackable furniture so that the layout can be easily configured. Should a client want a totally empty space, that can be arranged too. There is also a private enclosed area.
Unlike Habitat Coffee which serves food, Top Deck has no kitchen, hence there is no food on the menu. Instead, Top Deck works with external caterers to meet food requirements when the space is rented. "The kitchen at Habitat Coffee is not large enough to cater to two outlets, hence we work with caterers," says Mr Ng.
It costs $600 to rent the space at Top Deck for four hours, with an additional $150 per subsequent hour. Catering starts from $17.50 per person, with a minimum of 30 orders. The space can seat 55 persons, or it can make room for 70 people standing.
When not used as an event space, Top Deck doubles as a cafe. The same blend of coffee as at Habitat is served from its Synesso Hydra espresso machine. Each cup goes for $5.
237 South Bridge Road
Not only is Chinatown a new playground for modern eateries, which are steadily pushing out old culinary landmarks, but it also has to contend with more new neighbours - upstart companies which are setting up shop in the neighbourhood.
It is growing in popularity as a centralised spot for co-working spaces, the latest being 237 - named after its unit number in South Bridge Road.
The two-storey shophouse comprises a cafe on the ground floor and a co-working space on the second.
Some of its tenants include Newton Circus, a Singapore-based social enterprise and technology company dedicated to inventing communities and services that make the world a better place. There is also Padang&Co, a business which brings professionals from the civic innovation, data science and makers communities together.
Daryl Arnold, chief executive of Newton Circus and founder of 237, says that the space tends to attract people who are "doing, making things and pushing boundaries". In other words, 237 is a vibrant community that comprises start-ups, graphic designers, Web developers, entrepreneurs, software designers and marketers
People who work together also get to eat together, so Mr Arnold opened the cafe to turn the co-working space into a social space as well.
"We often hold events here, and there is a need for food. We could rely on caterers, but it makes more sense to run a cafe in-house," he says.
Rather than the usual fare such as fried bee hoon, the cafe focuses on healthy food that is sustainably sourced and made with fresh quality ingredients.
Spearheaded by chef Clement Ng from Koco Lifestyle, the kitchen strives to make mealtime one of enjoyment, rather than just a means to fill the stomach. The food is simple but wholesome, with a menu that includes mushroom pesto tarts and heartwarming soups such as tomato, carrot or chickpea.
The cafe is open to the public, and on some evenings, the cafe's seating area is transformed into an event space. 237 has played host to several hackathons that gather people from different fields to improve Singapore's urban environment through the creative use of technology and data, as well as a diverse range of workshops, from creating natural skincare products to learning how to code.
THE WORKING CAPITOL
1 Keong Saik Road
The Keong Saik area is known for its hip eating and drinking places, but come March, it would not be wrong to add hip working space to the list.
Opening then is The Working Capitol, a hybrid collection of co-working spaces, private offices, an event space and a cafe.
"We wanted to challenge the traditional notion of what an office is, and redefine the workspace," says Ben Gattie, one of the three founders of The Bamboo Group, a boutique real estate and development company focusing on shophouses and small buildings in Singapore.
Mr Gattie, his sister Saranta and business partner Y. C. Teo are co-founding members of The Working Capitol.
It is housed in five shophouses, with spacious workspaces and well-designed sunlit interiors. Design firm Takenouchi Webb is the interior design consultant for the project.
Understanding that the requirements and needs of every individual and company might vary, The Working Capitol offers a selection of working environments: from permanent desk and flexible seating options, to private serviced offices that can accommodate teams of two to eight.
"The entire space is designed to ensure that there will be many opportunities - for example in our cafe, beer garden and lounging areas, or around our pantry islands - for people to come together to discover, create and collaborate," says Mr Gattie.
The Working Capitol will have its own cafe, the People Vs, which can be used for lunch meetings, networking sessions, casual gatherings and after-work parties.
In addition, it will also house a few other F&B establishments, including Lolla's sister outlet and the modern Japanese izakaya, Neon Pigeon. More F&B outlets will be added later.
THE BUSINESS TIMES