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Mr Eric Chai, cafe supervisor at The Provision Shop, updates the cafe’s 2m-long chalkboard daily.

SINGAPORE - For a retro school-themed cafe, Old School Delights fittingly has wall-to-wall chalkboards on which the doodles jostle for space with the daily specials.

Yet, no mere untidy pupil scrawls on those chalkboards; instead, the eatery in Upper Thomson Road pays a professional illustrator to design what is on them - chalking up a bill of $2,000 in the process.

Chalkboard writer Admira Pustika, 30, took two months in late 2011 to design some of Old School Delights' 4m-tall chalkboards, writing dish names such as "banana cake" and "chendol" in neat, blocky capital letters and decorating blank spaces with unpretentious cartoons of cakes.

Says the cafe's co-owner, Ms Olivia Teo, 41: "We want our cafe to feel nostalgic, so we decided to hire someone to create this mood.

"Customers often tell us that the chalkboards remind them of when they were in school, sitting in front of the chalkboard."

As cafes mushroom in Singapore's vibrant food scene, many are turning to impressively decorated chalkboard menus - imbuing them with witty slogans - to grab diners' attention. And those who create elegant fonts and beautiful pictures on such menu boards are sometimes not amateurs, by a long chalk.

Illustrator Ly Yeow, 27, was paid $400 two months ago to write a chalkboard menu for permanent display at Tiong Bahru Bakery's outlet in Tangs Orchard department store.

The bakery's spokesman says some of its staff were impressed by Ms Yeow's work.

Says the spokesman: "We wanted our newest outlet to have a cosy feel. Having a chalkboard menu definitely fits in with this overall design."

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