Toilet Supplier Turned Accidental Baker Opens Cafe
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Toilet Supplier Turned Accidental Baker Opens Cafe

Apr 10, 2023

At the whimsical Avery's Laundromat Café, you can wash clothes, eat homemade bakes and shop for knick-knacks. There's even free popcorn and drinks. stumbled upon Avery's Laundromat Café by accident when this writer had two hours to kill at Alexandra Central Mall. Desperate for a drink, we were drawn to their cute neon sign touting both laundry services and a cafe, plus a popcorn machine, the fragrance of freshly made waffles and… well, basically everything in this whimsical store.

Even more whimsical is the genesis of how Daniel Leong and Cynthia Teo, both in their 50s, went from selling portable toilets to becoming F&B biz owners. The affable couple has 35 years in the cleaning and waste management and portable toilet industry. They used to travel frequently for work, attending world-wide toilet events. Thus, they had to do their laundry at automated laundry machines overseas. In Singapore, they also patronised laundromats to use the washer and dryer on rainy days.

"Most of the time, the laundromats were crowded and we had to wait for an available washer, and queue again for the dryer. It could take us up to three hours," recalls Cynthia.

Once, the couple ran an errand during the wait and was 10 minutes late to collect their washed laundry. Someone then removed their wet laundry and left it outside. The couple had to wash their clothes plus queue all over again. "At that time, we thought to ourselves: How nice if there was a place where we could do laundry and have someone oversee the process while we ran errands; or if we could rest and have a drink or meal and keep our laundry within our sight," says Cynthia, explaining that customers do laundry at their own risk at such automated laundromats.

During the pandemic, Cynthia wanted to use her SkillsFuture credits to take up a baking course and cajoled a reluctant Daniel to be her baking partner. Despite grudgingly attending the course, Daniel turned out to be quite the baker and became the surprise star student of the class, says Cynthia.

So, after the couple decided to retire from the loo biz and sold their shares in their portable toilet business, they opened their dream laundromat café in November 2022. The name ‘Avery’, which means ‘wise’ in both English and French, is a moniker that Cynthia loves and the couple aspires to be wiser and to continue learning as they age.

You could even do a spot of shopping in-store. Cynthia's trading company brings in hair clips and their own brand of tea imported from Thailand.

It's a bit ‘everything, everywhere, all at once’ to offer laundry, shopping and food, but it's fun.

The couple also thoughtfully set up a small rest corner outside their shop. Passers-by are invited to rest on the chairs and enjoy a free cold fruity drink such as lime or coconut. "We have many elderly neighbours and it's so hot in Singapore; we thought they might appreciate having a little rest and a drink," explains Cynthia.

Paying customers are offered a free cup of freshly-made popcorn (a whole bag is sold at $2.50) and, depending on baker Daniel's experiments, even a small pastry compliments of the chef. The first time we visited, he gave us an egg tart.

And on the day of our shoot, he baked mini pineapple tarts. They also offer a discounted $1 coffee or tea to the mall's security and cleaning staff, as they came from the same industry that Daniel and Cynthia were from. Sweet.

The menu is surprisingly varied for a café that started out as a coffee-and-snack stop for laundry customers. Savoury items include fish and chips, mini burgers, sandwiches, and waffles with bacon and ham. Other than the supplier-bought dim sum items like siew mai, the couple proudly tells us that all their baked goods, including the brioche burger buns, are freshly baked in-house daily.

The sweets menu is even bigger, with Daniel's cakes, ice cream shakes and old-school sng bao (plastic tubes of frozen ice lollies), all jostling for attention. The couple is happy to have attracted non-laundry regulars who come specially for their food and drinks, including a guy who brings his doggo to this pet-friendly joint regularly. But no, they don't offer meals for pets.

Choose any three fillings, such as fish otak or ham and cheese. Ours were bacon and cheese, cheesy egg and our fave, a juicy beef patty that's worth the $1.50 top-up fee. The home-baked brioche bun is fluffy and fresh. A steal for $7.90.

Daniel's star pastry offers great value at just $1.80 for two mini cupcake-sized pieces. The tarts are like a cross between Hong Kong-style shortcrust pastry and Portuguese egg tarts. The eggy custard – we prefer the pieces that are a little more burnt and caramelly – is as good as those we’ve tasted at proper bakeries.

The rest of the baked goods, like the fudgy brownie ($3.90) and slightly dense burnt cheesecake ($6.90 per slice) are pretty decent too.

Perhaps it's because we left our waffle out for too long while doing our photoshoot. Though we like the buttery waffle's flavour, it had hardened when we finally tasted it. But when we had our takeaway order hot with bacon and ham, it was nice and fluffy. We prefer the Croffle's (croissants crisped up in the waffle iron) lighter mouthfeel. The most popular ice cream flavour here is chocolate though the white chocolate and raspberry added a nice sweet-sour tinge.

This photogenic Oreo ice cream milkshake is a crowd favourite. It's very Instagrammable but a little too sweet for our taste.

We really enjoyed this old-school treat. They offer seven different flavours, including coconut, calamansi and our favourite, the satisfyingly zingy sour plum, which had whole pieces of preserved fruit floating in it. So good on a scorching day.

We like Avery Laundromat Café's homely vibe, friendly prices and good service. Even though we have a washing machine at home, we’d pop by again for the mini burgers and egg tarts — with our fur kids in tow.

Avery's Laundromat Cafe is at #01-05 Alexandra Central Mall, 321 Alexandra Rd, S159971. Tel: 97217848. Open daily 11am to 10pm. More info via Facebook and Instagram.

Photos: Aik Chen

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News & Reviews

News & Reviews

News & Reviews

Why they opened cafe in a laundromat Couple took baking course, hubby emerged star student DIY, or pay service fee for them to wash, dry and fold laundry for you There's a small retail corner Freebies for the ’hood The menu Mini Brioche Burgers, $7.90 for three (8 Days Pick!) Mini Egg Tarts, $1.80 for two mini pieces (8 Days Pick!) Waffle or Croffle with Ice Cream, $8 New Zealand Ice Cream Oreo Milkshake, $7.90 Sng Bao, $1.40 (8 Days Pick!) Bottom line The details