Good Morning Nanyang Cafe, known for its Singapore breakfast menu and special ciabatta kaya toast, closed its flagship outlet at the end of last month, after its owner decided not to renew the lease at Telok Ayer Hong Lim Green Community Centre.
Mr Byron Shoh, 49, cites manpower woes as the main reason for the closure, adding that weather was also an issue, as business dipped by at least 40 per cent when it rained.
Despite being profitable, the cafe could not continue operating as efficiently as he wanted because there were not enough workers.
He says that the cafe served 400 to 500 cups of coffee daily on average, and he became the only person making coffee during the day.
"Ideally, we would have nine staff working at a time, but at the time of closing there were only six and there weren't enough people to cook," he says.
"It became very tiring trying to find new staff."
Customers can still patronise Good Morning Nanyang Cafe's franchised outlets at The Grandstand at Turf Club Road, Far East Plaza, Pagoda Street and Maxwell Chambers.
He is working on a new business, a joint venture with food and beverage operator ABR Holdings, which manages franchises in Singapore such as Swensen's.
Food Glossary, a 300-seat cafeteria, is expected to open in November at The JTC Summit building in Jurong and serve Asian and Western food.
Mr Shoh will continue offering his signature kaya there as well.
He says: "It is an established group, so I can leverage on its expertise and experience. It can step in to help with recruitment this time."
Good Morning Nanyang Cafe opened in April 2005.
It was originally located in Majestic Theatre in Chinatown, before moving to Chinatown Point. It moved again at the end of 2011 to the Telok Ayer Hong Lim Green Community Centre at Hong Lim Park due to rent hikes.
The 70-seat cafe built a loyal following and was known for its popular kaya toast, including a unique version using ciabatta.
It was featured in Time magazine last year as one of 24 hidden finds in the world.
Mr Shoh is hoping to reopen in the next six months to a year, and is considering looking for a location in Chinatown again.
Regular customer Victor Wong, 72, a lawyer, is sorry to see the cafe go.
"I visited four days a week for coffee and ciabatta kaya toast or mee siam, and there was always good rapport with the operator.
"He treated us like friends instead of customers," he says.
This article was first published on Sep 10, 2014.
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