Coffeeshop Allegedly Didn’t Remove Barriers to ‘Force’ Diners to Return Their Trays


Even if you live under a rock, you probably know that it’s been a few months since we needed to use SafeEntry or our TraceTogether tokens to enter Food and Beverage (F&B) establishments.

And it’s pretty safe to say that most of us haven’t seen barriers that cordone off all but one entrance and exit in the past few months, whether it’s at shopping malls or other F&B establishments.

But even with the relaxed COVID-19 measures, it seems like the barriers previously used to ensure that every patron’s vaccination status and temperature have been checked before they enter still serve some purpose at this coffeeshop in Bishan.

Coffeeshop Owner Unwilling to Take Down Barriers

According to a reader’s tip-off that Shin Min Daily News received, the coffee shop that still has its barriers set up is located at Block 112 Bishan Street 12.

Despite the fact that barriers are no longer needed to separate the premise of the coffee shop from its outside, the coffee shop still has barriers put up all around it.

Apart from the metal barriers, there is orange netting used to encapsulate the entire coffee shop area as well.

This leaves one narrow exit for patrons to use when they frequent the establishment, which, obviously, is extremely inconvenient for the elderly or wheelchair users.

The reader told Shin Min that she previously attempted to let the coffee shop owner know about this issue, but the feedback apparently fell on deaf ears.

She said that the owner initially told her that the relevant authorities had not sent people to take the barriers down, but later changed his reason and said that he chose to not take the barriers down out of fear that patrons would no longer return their own trays after dining.

The reader then expressed that on top of being puzzled at the owner’s response, she was also concerned about the barriers being a safety hazard.

And it’s not hard to see why, unless you want to practice your 400m hurdle skills while you’re fleeing a fire.

However, since this is the only coffee shop in the vicinity, those in the area may have no choice but to visit this coffee shop for meals.

Patrons’ Opinions

When Shin Min reporters spoke to patrons on Saturday (25 June), one of them explained that seeing the barriers did not feel unusual for him since he has already gotten used to their presence through the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, he also added that it might not be convenient for the elderly since they would need to walk a much longer distance even if they did not need to return their trays.

Another patron pointed out that even though he does not understand the owner’s approach, diners ultimately still have the choice of whether they want to dine at the establishment or not.

Owner’s Opinions

The owner, a 56-year-old man surnamed Zhang, explained to Shin Min that setting up the tray return area at the exit will ensure that patrons return their trays after dining.


He also expressed that there is no problem with the barriers being put up, and that he has no intention to remove them either.

Mr Zhang added that since patrons are able to exit right after they return their trays, the barriers do not create any issues for them at all as long as they return their trays.

Even though he is aware that some diners may have their family members return their trays for them, he still insists on his opinion that the barriers are not creating an issue.

He even said that it would be good for the patrons to walk a further distance since they can treat it as a form of exercise.

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Barrier Affects Stallholders Negatively Too

Apart from the owner and diners themselves, the stallholders have also reflected that the barriers have affected them negatively.


For starters, the tze char stall stallholder also surnamed Zhang told Shin Min that stallholders now have to walk a much longer distance as well when they serve tze char dishes to customers seated at the corners, or when they need to clear the crockery.

The 34-year-old added that the coffee shop employs cleaners who collect the crockery and cutlery after patrons use them, and hence he does not understand the owner’s approach either.

He also shared that there are still some patrons who do not return their trays, proving the coffee shop owner’s approach ineffective.

In addition to the inconvenience, the stallholder also claimed that his business has also been impacted negatively since some patrons are no longer willing to frequent the coffee shop.

According to him, his business has decreased by half.

Another assistant of another stall in the coffee shop also echoed similar sentiments, saying that business at his stall has worsened by around 20 to 30%.


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Featured Image: Shin Min Daily News