If there’s one thing Singaporeans share, it’s a common love for food. Local eateries are constantly competing to whet our appetites with new flavours, but some have taken their fare one step further by making a social enterprise out of their businesses.
Whether it’s providing employment opportunities to the marginalised or donating profits to the less fortunate, these eateries have made it their mission to do good.
Check out these 8 social enterprise eateries! The causes they stand for only give us more reason to head out to try the cuisines they have to offer.
1. Art Bar
Get your daily coffee fix at Art Bar, a community project with Starbucks Singapore. Art Bar trains young adults with autism to handle cash and work the coffee machine, and ultimately, become fully-fledged baristas!
Art Bar is one of the various job sites at the E2C campus of Enabling Village. Enabling Village is a cosy community in Singapore where people with different disabilities can move independently, feel accepted for who they are, and be valued for their contributions.
While you’re there, you must try the rich, chocolatey and moist Double Chocolate Chip Muffin. It goes especially well with the Cafe Latte! Other drinks include Cafe Americano, Cafe Mocha and Milo Smoothie.
Where: The Art Faculty By Pathlight, 01-07 Enabling Village, 20 Lengkok Bahru
Hours: 9am to 8pm, Monday to Saturday; closed on Sunday
Phone: 6513 0706
2. Choon Ming Bao Dian
This quiet bao shop just off Upper Thomson Road is more than just another dim sum shop. Its owner, Madam Sarah Tan helps the less fortunate by giving them employment and having them make and sell their steamed buns.
The people you’ll see running Choon Ming Bao Dian include those with a history of mental illness, the homeless, single mothers, ex-offenders and foreign workers who were cheated by their agents. Her home has even doubled as a temporary shelter for these people!
Have one of the many yummy types of bao and dimsum available for breakfast! The Dinosaur Bao, Char Siew Bao, Har Gow, and Siew Mai are just some of them. You’ll be sure to feel the warmth from your belly all the way to your heart!
Choon Ming Bao Dian
203 Toa Payoh North, #01- 1121, Singapore 310203
122 Ang Mo Kio Ave 3, Singapore 560122
628 Ang Mo Kio Market & Food Centre, #01-91, Singapore 560628
3. Crossings Cafe
The aptly named Crossings Cafe seeks to provide employment opportunities, personal development and dignity to the disadvantaged. The hope is that they will be able to cross boundaries and chart more paths in society.
This quaint little social enterprise is sure to not only nourish your stomach, but make you feel more connected to your community as well!
All profits made here are channeled to charitable causes. Also, it is currently collaborating with Assumption Pathway School, taking on students to work at the café as servers, cooks and baristas.
Come down and try their delicious comfort food at affordable prices. Their Signature Chilli Crab Pasta, Gula Melaka Pancake Stack, Grilled Pork and Fennel Burger, and Sweet Potato Fries are sure-bets!
4. Dignity Kitchen
Tucked away in Serangoon is Singapore’s first ever hawker training school. It gives practical training to people with disabilities, so they can secure stable jobs as chefs or hawkers!
80% of its staff is disabled, and another 20% is made up of the elderly and the poor–all of which are able to achieve financial independence working here.
Dignity Kitchen is home to Singaporean favourites like rojak, chicken rice, baked goods and local desserts. You can even pre-order bento boxes for large scale events here!
5. Eighteen Chefs
Opened by an ex-convict himself, Eighteen Chefs inspires troubled youths and people with conviction backgrounds to find positive ways to reintegrate back into society.
This eatery offers a safe, non-judgmental working environment, giving these people a chance to also work on their recovery through working closely with others. Through their employment here, many of them have realized their culinary talents and have gone on to work in other renown restaurants.
Try their Signature Heart Attack Fried Rice with Steak, Whole Spring Chicken, Baked Rice and even Japanese Curry Rice! Portions are sure to be generous, giving you a huge bang for your buck!
Where: NEX Serangoon, 23 Serangoon Central, #01-57, Singapore 556083 (And other outlets)
Hours: Monday to Sunday, 11.00am to 10.00pm
Telephone: 6634 4642
6. Joan Bowen Cafe
Originally opened by the owners to fulfil their special needs daughter’s wish to be a chef, Joan Bowen Café has since employed more than 10 special needs youths.
This casual dining eatery aims to provide a safe social workplace environment that will help these youths learn and discover their special talents.
Expect nothing but homely, wholesome foods here! Old favourites include chilli crab pasta, lemongrass char-grilled chicken and pork ribs. Newer additions to the menu includes roast beef, pork roulade, lamb shank and pasta capretto.
Joan Bowen Cafe
Where: 9 Jalan Wangi, Singapore 349354
Open: 11am to 4pm, Monday & Tuesday; 11.30am to 2.30pm, Wednesday; 11.30am to 2.30pm, 6.30pm to 9.30pm, Thursday & Friday; 1pm to 9.30pm, Saturday; Closed on Sundays & Public Holidays
Phone: 6281 3629
Email: [email protected]
7. New Rasa Singapura
New Rasa Singapura is another cosy social enterprise that provides training and employment opportunities to the disadvantaged, so they can be integrated back into society.
Those working in this establishment include people with physical or hearing impairments, recovering stroke patients and mature, vulnerable individuals.
Expect Singaporean favourites like fish head curry, beef rendang, soup kambing, hainanese chicken rice, dry laksa, char kway teow, fried carrot cake, chap chye, and many more!
8. Qita In The Park
A contagious passion to help the less fortunate was what drove the owner, Genevieve, to leave her cushy lawyer job to run a social enterprise of her own.
This cafe-cum-retail shop showcases beautiful artwork on its walls for sale, in support of the artists at Pathlight. Singapore-themed gifts made by home-bound women and senior citizens are also on display.
Popular picks here include the traditional Singaporean breakfast of half boiled eggs and toast with homemade kaya, made from fresh coconut milk. Lunch sets include fragrant Kampong Chicken Curry with organic basmati rice. Yum!
Qita In The Park
Where: 20 Upper Pickering Street, Telok Ayer Hong Lim Green Community Centre
Open: 7.30am to 6pm, weekdays; 9am to 3pm, Saturday; closed on Sunday.
Phone: 6225 4318
Email: [email protected]
These eateries are doing a world of good for those who truly need it, and it has definitely warmed our hearts. If it’s warmed yours too, come show your support for those less fortunate and taste what they have to offer!
Not only will you leave with a full belly, your heart will also be full.