He also highlights that being a hawker is a good launching pad. “Starting restaurants requires a huge amount of start-up capital. We didn’t have much and could only afford to open a stall, given that we didn’t want to seek funding from investors. We figured we should start small,” he adds.
With the onset of the Covid-19 crisis, business has been adversely affected. But sheer determination with a good dose of strategic adaptation saw them through, he says. “The crisis has taught us to be quick when it comes to decision making, and we’ve managed to turn around our business with delivery services.”
To aspiring next generation hawkers, he advises: “Don’t give up. Be unique. Stay grounded.”
#02-78 Amoy Street Food Centre
7 Maxwell Road
Self-professed third generation hawkers Jack, Anna and Faye Sai, who have been helping their father at the stall at Amoy Street Food Centre since young, decided to take over and run Coffee Break. As next generation hawkers, they have expanded the business to a second stall at Hong Lim Food Centre, and pivoted to coffee and toast with a twist, offering sea salt caramel latte and macadamia vanilla milk, Earl Grey creme toast and black sesame toast.
Look out for their “Little Coffee Breaks”, which are Nespresso-compatible kopi capsules, as well as black sesame toast spread. “Passion helps us to drive the business beyond its usual mould,” says Faye.
“We’ve managed to establish ourselves not merely as hawkers but purveyors of quality bent on serving good local Nanyang kopi, hence raising the standards of the hawker scene. My siblings and I have not taken medical leave for the past five years – I think that demonstrates passion to a large extent!”