During the 2nd World War, Ah-Gong went to Malacca and Ma Po working in a coffee shop owned by his relative. However, he had to tend the shop during the night, didn’t like the idea very much. Hence, in 1950, he decided to return to Hainan Island. A year later, Ah-Gong came back to Singapore with a recommended job offer as a “Tau Chew” (Coffee Chef) in “Qiong Xin He”, a traditional coffee shop. The coffee shop was later renamed “Killiney Kopitiam” in 1993.
The story of Killiney Kopitiam can only be told well by one who had witnessed the passage of time and how the people and appearance of the store have changed gradually. In the past, there were neither offices nor roads in front of the shop, only trees which obscured the shop. There weren’t many customers at that time, and most of the customers were from the Malay and Chinese schools nearby. Looking back, Ah-Gong has seen much improvement to the shop and its surroundings. Roads and buildings have since been built and customers’ demands have changed.
According to Ah-Gong, French toast was deemed affordable by many people in the past. This signature dish became well-known because of a famous singer, Lu Ding. When Lu Ding ate Killiney’s French toast, she was impressed and found it to be highly delicious. From then on, whenever she performed on stage, she would praise and recommend our delicious French toast to the audiences. This gave us exposure and garnered positive publicity for Killiney Kopitiam. At times, she would even patronize the shop in the company of other singers. From then onwards, French toast became one of Killiney’s signature dishes.
The reason that has kept Ah Gong going strong was that he felt valued by his boss and was contented with devoting his life to contribute to the success of Killiney. Most importantly, he felt that working in Killiney was both rewarding and enriching as everyone was harmonious and worked together like a closely knit family. Till this day, each and every one of us puts in maximum effort to provide good quality yet affordable food with the best service standard possible.
Ah-Gong had since passed down his brewing and kaya-making skills to us. This has enabled us to continue keeping this tradition alive. After dedicating 54 years of his life to Killiney, he has gained our utmost respect.