For batter or worse: Popular fish soup eatery Alfa Cafe pivots to confectionery after landlord hikes rent, hopes to move business online

PHOTO: Facebook/Alfa Cafe, Instagram/nifty_girl

While some F&B establishments have decided to close for good after being hit hard by increased prices, others have decided to make the best out of the situation by pivoting. 

One example would be the owners of Alfa Cafe at Lucky Plaza, who went from helming the popular fish soup joint to whipping up cakes and pastries.

The switch was due to an increase in rent, 51-year-old Anthony Lim told Shin Min Daily News in a recent interview. 

"My fish soup shop consists of two stores, one is the kitchen and the other is a place for customers to dine in. The rent for the kitchen was originally $8,000. During the pandemic, the landlord gave us a discount of $3,000 to $4,000 depending on the changes in dine-in restrictions," he explained. 

"But not long ago, our lease expired, and the landlord asked to increase the rent to $9,000." 

So, to solve the problem, Anthony decided to close the kitchen portion of the 30-year-old eatery and turn the dine-in section into a bakery called Lapisand

Alfa Cafe's last day was on Oct 15 last year, and Lapisan, specialising in kueh lapis, swiss rolls and pastries, was launched soon after. 

The move seems to be working out so far — Anthony told the Chinese daily that his costs have been reduced by 90 per cent. 

In fact, he is hoping that he can move the business entirely online and run it from the comfort of his home to save even more money.

Prior to this, Alfa Cafe had been helmed by the Anthony's father-in-law for 19 years before he took over the reins 11 years ago. 

As the eatery was very dependent on tourists from countries like the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand, it was badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and lost around $300,000 in the past two years.

However, even though Singapore has been slowly opening up, the mall has only seen around a 10 to 20 per cent increase in tourists, Anthony shared.

Those keen to check out the offerings at Lapisan can head over to their website or Instagram to do so. 

melissateo@asiaone.com