Him: gets the girl, loses his day job because of the World Cup, collects loads of awesome stuff, has two great kids, lives happily ever after
Her: leaves her native home for a life in Singapore, becomes a partner and chef, has two great kids, lives happily ever after with nice guy who has a penchant to hoard old stuff.
They met when training to become SQ crew.
Jeffrey had an advantage over the competition for Yoko’s attention: he’d lived 3 years in Tokyo and could speak Japanese. Now over 20 years later, they have two daughters named Christa & Naomi. The CAN Cafe is named after the girls.
Jeffrey opened his Cafe Liang Seah Street in 1998 when he was still flying. Eventually the success of the place forced him to quit SQ.
“I lost my job because of the World Cup in 2002. Well – I had to quit before they fired me. Not many places had a live feed for the games. So we were crammed every night and we were closing at 3am. I was supposed to get up 5:30am… I thought I was just going to have a nap.
Of course I slept through. The first time I got a warning letter and was told to give a written explanation. Before I could write to explain, I missed a second one.
So I just quit. They were going to fire me anyway.”
After 9 years in Liang Seah Street, rents got too high to continue so they closed shop. They took a two-year break then started looking for a new location. It took another three years to find the place on Beach Road.
“It was nice to take a break but our savings couldn’t last forever.”
It’s not been easy to find staff, so Jeffrey manages the front of the house and Yoko is the chef. She’s still learning the ropes with the local dishes.
“It was very stressful at first. But people have been full of compliments. It gives me confidence.”
The place is crammed with antiques, curios and memorabilia. More is stored behind. In one corner is a stack of old newspapers. On top is a yellowed New York Times from July 21st, 1969: “Men Walk On Moon”.
Along one wall are some posters that haven’t been hung, and probably never will be unless something is removed.
“Is that really Bruce Lee’s signature?”
“Well that’s what the guy said who sold it too me. I have no reason to distrust him.”
Some retro furniture is expect within the hour. He’s psyched about the delivery. Where it will fit is a mystery.
“Doesn’t your wife ever tell you that you have enough stuff already? That it’s time to stop buying.”
“All the time”
337 Beach Road