In the oven... Red House Bakery revival
THE Red House Bakery in Katong will soon be revived, and the search is on for an operator who will take over the premises and dole out traditional bread and pastries.
The new bakery will open in 2016, in the same two-storey shophouse where the well-known Katong Bakery and Confectionary opened in 1931, behind a fire-engine-red facade.
Developer Warees Investments, the real-estate development arm of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis), is inviting businesses and start-ups to set up there.
Warees Investments has specified that bakery products must be halal. The bakery must also sell "signature delicacies, original or improvised, of the Old Katong Bakery".
Old patrons welcomed the revival, but hoped the new shop would stay true to old tastebuds.
"Don't add so much sugar, like all the bakeries today. Just stick to traditional recipes," said May Wong, 53, who runs a photocopying shop at Roxy Square across the street.
She was a regular at the Katong Bakery, which she would visit for kaya toast and coffee served in F&N glasses, before it closed in 2003.
But not all old-timers are excited. "It's nothing special, just nostalgia," said Judy Yong, 67, a fashion designer who visited the bakery in the 70s.
"Only young people will be curious," she said. "It's nothing special to us - just cake and coffee. I can make them myself."
Raymond Wong, 35, who owns neighbouring kueh shop Rumah Kim Choo, identified the labour-intensive nature of bakeries as a problem.
"Too much time is spent on a $3 loaf of bread. If they want to open a bakery there, it will be difficult unless the developer is willing to lower the rental," he said.
However, Mr Wong noted that old-style bakeries have gained popularity in the past few years.
This boost reversed the fortune of another historic Hainanese confectionary in the neighbourhood, Chin Mee Chin.
"Chin Mee Chin used to be declining in business, but they were one of the last left standing, so business in recent years has boomed," said Mr Wong.
The upcoming Red House Bakery is part of an integrated heritage development project called The Red House, which consists of 42 residential units and six shophouses. To date, 24 residential units have been sold.
To ensure that The Red House residents are not disturbed by sit-in patrons, the bakery will only offer take-aways.
Warees Investments also said that the new bakery would be run as a social enterprise, in the spirit of philanthropist Sheriffa Zain Alsharoff Mohamed Alsagoff, who put the property in trust as a wakaf, or religious bequest, in 1957. Proceeds from The Red House project will be used to provide free medical care to the needy.