Last Updated on 2023-05-05 , 2:02 pm
This was especially so for office workers who worked nearby at 61 Ubi Rd 1, the industrial area where the cafe was planning to open.
The cafe officially opened on 6 March 2023 in Oxley Bizhub, a ten-storey multiple-user light industrial development. Looking as if it had just stepped out of a magazine furniture catalogue, the cafe was equipped with aesthetically pleasing furniture and work-friendly spaces for individuals to eat good food and finish their tasks simultaneously.
It quickly got a lot of buzz from citizens and food bloggers alike for its chic aesthetics.
Unfortunately, the cafe operator has since been suspected of building an illegal loft and setting up a cafe on the loft without approval.
The cafe operated for two months before being ordered to close and dismantle by the authorities on 19 April 2023.
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For those unfamiliar with the cafe, it operated from 9 am to 5 pm daily at the time of its opening and was located next to FoodHub, a food court located within Oxley Bizhub.
To access the cafe, patrons must pass through a brick-walled entrance and climb up a flight of stairs to its dining space on the second level of its industrial unit.
Upon entering, Cafe Limonci appears more like a furniture store with cosy sofas, printed floor mats, and homely tables and stools. It is much larger than most cafes and is divided into three different “living rooms,” with furnishings spread throughout.
Due to its furnishing, many have cited that the cafe provides a laidback and minimalist ambience, making it an ideal location for individuals to work while enjoying their food and drinks.
Cafe Limonci only offered standard cafe menu options before its official launch in March 2023. These included coffee made from Rwandan single-origin coffee beans and non-coffee options like Matcha Latte, priced at $6, and Iced Lemon Ginger Ade, priced at $5.
They also offered a tea-flavoured Gelato dessert selection priced at $4 for a single scoop and $7.50 for double scoops, with flavours like Lemon Curd Thyme, Tahitian Vanilla Bean, Oolong Osmanthus, and Earl Grey Lavender.
Since its grand opening, Cafe Limonci has expanded its menu to include hot food options like Fresh Focaccia, priced at $11, and mains like Croissant Madame, priced at $22, prompting many patrons to try their offerings.
Announcement of Closure
Unfortunately, not many got to taste the main dishes from Cafe Limonci. After many complaints about the cafe, it ended up closing on 10 April 2023, two months after its launch.
The cafe’s team expressed their disappointment on Instagram on 12 April 2023, explaining that they could not find a way around the obstacles caused by multiple parties other than closing the shop.
In their post, Cafe Limonci’s team complained that the various regulations and licenses associated with running an F&B business drained all the enjoyment from their work.
According to them, the cafe was planning to tackle their unapproved licences systematically until they were “thwarted by overzealous naysayers”, who complained to multiple agencies, forcing their cafe to close.
The team reported that they were subjected to weekly complaints from various sources, leading to time-consuming meetings with government agencies and contractors who could only suggest closing down the business as a solution.
In addition, their staff members were frequently questioned about the cafe and had their pictures taken daily.
Despite these challenges, the team thanked the rest of the community and the media for their unwavering support and encouragement.
They also urged customers to wait for updates as they worked through the challenges, assured followers that Cafe Limonci would return, and even hinted at opening another outlet.
Investigations Surrounding the Cafe
Contrary to their post, Cafe Limonci was not closed due to silly complaints. Instead, the cafe operators are suspected of constructing an illegal loft without the necessary permits.
According to Lianhe Zaobao, the alleged attic space had been unoccupied for many years until Cafe Limonci took over. The cafe and the loft are registered under the same address as per the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA).
The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), Singapore Food Agency (SFA), Singapore Civil Defense Force (SCDF), and the Singapore Building and Construction Authority (BCA) are currently investigating the matter and plan to take appropriate action afterwards.
Meanwhile, the stairway door to the attic has been sealed, and an emergency closing notice has been posted while investigations are ongoing.
Action To Be Taken
The BCA has since issued a Closure and Demolition Order (CLO) to the owners involved on 10 April 2023. The authorities will take appropriate disciplinary actions after the relevant investigations are completed.
The three enforcement agencies stressed that these actions are necessary to ensure property owners know the need to obtain permits before commencing construction work.
As per the Building Control Act, individuals who start, conduct, or authorise construction work without an approved construction plan or permission may be fined up to $200,000 or imprisoned for up to two years or both.
According to the Urban Renewal Authority’s Planning Act, those who carry out or permit illegal construction work without approval may face a fine of up to $200,000 if they are convicted as a first-time offender.
Furthermore, all dining establishments must obtain permission from the SFA to operate, and if found violating, they can be fined up to $10,000.
An additional allegation of Cafe Limonci violating fire safety regulations has been reported to the SCDF, and an investigation is underway.
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