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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

Evans Road eateries staying put

Outlets under renovation after change of landlord; carpark capacity to double.
January 7, 2013
By: Jessica Lim
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Evans Road eateries staying put The Wine Company co-owner Belinda Lim will continue operating her eatery at the Evans Road site, which has a new landlord, but the outlet is currently undergoing a major renovation and will reopen on Jan 26. -- ST PHOTO: NURIA LING

FOODIES can relax. Three popular eateries in Evans Road in Bukit Timah - breakfast joint Hatched, The Wine Company restaurant and 24-hour Mr Prata - are staying.

Their fate had hung in the balance after the Singapore Land Authority put the state-owned site up for tender in September last year.

There was a change in landlord and the eatery operators were not sure if they would be kicked out or if rent would be raised to an unaffordable level.

The area is popular with foodies as well as students and staff of the National University of Singapore's (NUS) Bukit Timah campus nearby.

The 14,508 sq m site - about the size of two football fields - also houses the 225-room Evans Lodge hostel.

In the end, the change of landlord ended up being a "good thing", said Ms Belinda Lim, co-owner of The Wine Company.

Rent, she added, went up by about 15 per cent, but new landlord Winsta Holding allowed her to reduce her restaurant from 5,000 sq ft to 3,000 sq ft.

"We're paying the same rent," she said, adding that the eatery is now closed for a major renovation. It will reopen on Jan 26.

The other two eateries are also closed for refurbishment. Mr Prata will be increasing its 100-seat capacity by 15 per cent and retiling floors and walls.

Hatched will also be expanding.

"The rental increase is reasonable. I'm glad that it's certain we are staying," said Mr Chandra Sehkar, 53, co-owner of Mr Prata, whose business was affected in the last few months due to the uncertainty.

"People didn't know if we were still here."

He said it is the right time to renovate - the first major upgrading since the outlet opened in 2006 - because the other eateries are closed too.

The Straits Times understands a new tenant, probably a childcare centre, will be opening soon.

Winsta Holding said all three eateries will reopen by end-February. Its director Lynn Sim, 34, said it will double the capacity of the site's carpark.

It will also tear down the old hostel rooms in phases and build new ones. The staggered development, she said, means that the 10 students currently staying in the hostel can continue to do so.

Room rates will go up after the spruce-up. Students now pay between $300 and $600 per person a month, depending on room type. This will go up to between $600 and $800, the market rate, said Ms Sim, whose firm runs several student hostels islandwide.

Regular visitors to the eateries are glad that they will remain. Mr Michael Chang, 40, a civil servant who dines at The Wine Company once every two months, wrote to the restaurant once he knew it would be renovating.

"I wrote to it to request that it keep the old ambience," he said, adding that he likes its colonial feel. "I love the soft lighting. It's the perfect place to chill out. I was so upset when I heard it might be closing."

Winsta Holding won the tender on Nov 16 last year, with its offer of $171,899 monthly rent. The tenancy is for an initial three years, and renewable for up to six years.


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