ST Picks: Food firms mine nostalgia to draw customers

8 months ago 55

Updated

September 17, 2023 at 7:32 AM

Published

September 16, 2023 at 11:00 AM

SINGAPORE – Old is perennial gold in Singapore. Despite the relentless march of progress, the determined forward thinking, people here like to bask in nostalgia, to hark back to simpler times.

Restaurants and cafes have done much to encourage that, and a crop of new ones is continuing that trend. They are conjuring in food, drink and decor the sepia-toned, warm memories of days gone by to draw customers.

That strategy is paying off too, judging by the crowds that flock to these places.

What seems to be driving the success is that these canny entrepreneurs are putting a modern spin on retro food and drink.

Doing that helps widen their pool of potential customers – older ones who actually lived through those days and younger ones seeking Instagram-worthy interiors and eats.

Recreating a Housing Board (HDB) common corridor, complete with doors, metal gates, a green trash can and even a sliding lift door that doubles as the cafe entrance, has been social media gold for influencer types. They have been beating down the simulated lift doors to Lou Shang in Prinsep Street, a cafe-bar which opened in mid-August.

Great Nanyang, a 70-seat cafe in Craig Road which also opened in mid-August, bills itself as an “olden-day kopitiam concept”.

Owner Keith Kang, 40, says: “I wanted to allow the younger generation to go back in time and have the opportunity to experience the charms of olden-day coffee houses from the 1950s to 1980s.

“The older generation can also reminisce about the good old days. I...

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