Long queues at popular Tiong Bahru Galicier Pastry bakery following news of impending closure
SINGAPORE: In a neighbourhood that boasts cafes at every corner, it is like any other weekday afternoon.
Sweltering hot, peacefully quiet, distinctly normal.
But at an old-school bakery with an unmissable yellow signboard, the queue stretches out the door.
Some customers emerge from the shop with bags filled with boxes of goodies, others with kueh and pastries in hand.
Inside Tiong Bahru Galicier Pastry, it is a hubbub of activity, as the clientele chooses from a wide selection of sweet treats. Things move like an assembly line, service proceeds with factory-like precision.
The bakery has been around for several decades, and is famous for traditional Nyonya kueh.
As customers make their slow march into the shop, cars pull up just outside, their occupants gawking at the line.
And while queues are not uncommon at the popular bakery, when CNA visited at 10am on Tuesday (Apr 12), there were at least 30 customers in line.
Earlier on Monday, it was reported that the bakery will close in June or July this year.
The family-run bakery is owned by Mr Tan Yong Siang and his wife Mdm Jenny Soh. When asked by CNA about their plans for the bakery, Mr Tan confirmed that it will be closing around the end of June.
The couple, both in their 70s, are planning to retire.
"We are old and our bodies are aching (from working over the years)," said Mr Tan.
"We do feel a bit of regret at having to close the shop because of how much we have put into it," added Mdm Soh.
While other factors like rental and utilities costs played a part in their decision, being able to finally take a proper break after years in the bakery was what sealed it for the elderly duo.
"We are old and we've done this for 30 to 40 years. And my husband's legs hurt after standing for long periods of time. He has (had) several operations. It wouldn't have any more meaning to continue, and him having to do more operations. And so we decided to stop."
While the bakery used to open six days a week, Tiong Bahru Galicier Pastry is now open from Tuesday to Saturday, to give the couple and their staff more time off.
"ALL THE OLD STUFF IS GONE"
One of the customers later in the afternoon was Mdm Josephine Cheong.
Mdm Cheong, who grew up in the Tiong Bahru area, has been a patron of the bakery since she was a child. Now she returns whenever she visits the nearby Tiong Bahru market.
"I thought 2.30pm today would be a good time (to come by) because the ondeh ondeh is usually ready after lunch ... Usually at 2-plus the queue is usually quite alright, manageable," she told CNA.
Mdm Cheong had been unaware of the bakery's impending closure later this year and only found out while texting her sister mid-queue.
She noted that the bakery's wide and unique selection of kueh was one of the things she liked about it.
"(Now) there goes ondeh ondeh, there goes kueh dadar (rolled coconut crepes), there goes everything. All this old stuff is gone. And then we will have new stuff, more cakes, more cakes and more cakes," she lamented.
"I feel a little sad ... Where am I going to buy kueh from?"
Echoing those sentiments was Ms Belinda Leong, who lives in the neighbourhood. She had been waiting for about an hour for a fresh batch of kueh dadar when approached by CNA.
"This is an old shop selling traditional stuff, if they close down, then that's one less temptation for me," she said. "It's something nice that my family likes, but if it is gone, it's gone."
Also in the queue later that afternoon was Mr Lawrence Loh.
Said the 40-year-old: "Sometimes, it is not about the food. It is about the memory and the history. It's hard to find that."
Mohan, M. (2022, April 12). Long queues at popular Tiong Bahru Galicier Pastry bakery following news of impending closure. CNA. https://www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/tiong-bahru-galicier-pastry-old-school-bakery-closing-2621631