It’s hard to get particularly excited for yet another vintage café to hit the city, but we make exceptions for My Awesome Café on Telok Ayer. Located on the ground floor of what used to be the Telok Ayer Chung Hwa Free Clinic, My Awesome Café takes the retrospective-looking trend aesthetic and knocks it out of the ballpark with equal parts knack for sourcing and creative ingenuity.
The man responsible for the high-ceilinged ground floor café – once the clinic’s consultation room – is hotel and F&B industry veteran, Franck Hardy, who was introduced to the space by his design agency friends occupying the two levels above the café. Asked to present a proposal for the URA-conserved space to the building’s landlord, Hardy took an aimless drive around town and found inspiration in a cache of old school tables and scrap fire house pipes. ‘It wasn’t a part of my concept at all,’ says Hardy, ‘But I fell in love with them instantly.’
Subsequently inspired by his find, Hardy settled on the café’s theme of giving items, and people, a second chance at life, Hardy worked with the uncles who owned the pipes and school desks he found, and the subsequent uncles he befriended who sold reclaimed wood and vintage fans all worked with him to pull the furnishings for the café together.
Working with input from his creative agency friends at Mangham Gaxiola upstairs, My Awesome Café successfully recreates the feel of a really cool friend’s cosy living room with its motley collection of fire pipe bar stools paired with reclaimed wood tables, vintage knick knacks sourced or donated from Hardy’s new uncle friends, and mustard brown glass cutlery hunted down from old mom and pop stores in Malaysia. Ex-employees still loyal to Hardy after his stints in hotels like the Quincy and St. Regis have also signed up to work alongside him to serve the café’s white collar lunch crowd and creative types who camp here to do work with their strong wi-fi and friendly vibe.
On the munch front, Hardy puts his past experiences to good use, offering baked bread and treats ($3-$8) in the morning, an array of sandwiches ($14-$20) and salads ($15-$21) at lunch – most notable of which is the My Awesome Salad ($16) of greens, smoked salmon, herbed chicken, duck rillettes and avocado; and its vegetarian counterpart that throws in red peppers, grilled eggplant, boiled egg, tomato, avocado and brie or goats cheese into the mix. To accompany them, Hardy’s also stocked cane sugar, Mexico-made coca cola ($5), freshly squeezed orange juice ($6) and barista-pulled coffee ($4-$6).
The pours include Stella Artois ($14), Hoegaarden ($16) and Leffe ($15) for a full pint. Keeping to the café’s storied Chinese heritage, a small selection of flavoured bai jiu – with flavours like Dragon Ginseng ($25/125ml, $80/500ml) and Wolfberry ($17/100ml, $70/500ml) – are also offered for the intrepid imbiber.
Hardy's keen efforts to pay tribute to the building's illustrious past clearly pays off. Singapore earns a vintage cafe true to the concept - My Awesome Cafe has a story to tell and doesn't hide it behind gimmick and Pinterest-lovely decor. We're all the richer for it.
|Venue name:||My Awesome Cafe||Contact:|
202 Telok Ayer St
|Opening hours:||Mon-Tue 7am-10pm; Wed-Fri 7am-midnight; Sat-Sun 8am-10pm|
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