In 1926, Loi Ah Koon (黎亚坤) emigrated from Hainan to Singapore, where he worked as a coffee-stall assistant, then started a stall selling coffee, crackers and toast at Telok Ayer Basin, together with two other immigrants, who later dropped out, leaving him to run the stall alone. He married while visiting relatives in Hainan and after his wife settled down with him in Singapore, she suggested cutting each slice of bread into half and combining the toast with her homemade kaya, which created their signature kaya toast. Registered in 1944 as Ya Kun Coffeestall (Ya Kun being Ah Koon in hanyu pinyin), the stall gradually developed a reputation for delicious kaya toast and friendly service. The couple, their eight children and seven other families lived in a three-storey shophouse across the road, where the Hong Leong Building now stands, and as the children grew up, they helped stir the kaya, run errands, charcoal-grill the bread and eventually, manage the stall.
Ya Kun Coffeestall moved to Lau Pa Sat in 1972, but high rents and renovation of Lau Pa Sat in 1984 sparked a return to the Telok Ayer Market; nevertheless, the stall continued to attract "customers who came every day, some from as far as Jurong or Woodlands". In 1998, the market closed down, so the stall relocated to Far East Square and was renamed Ya Kun Kaya Toast; the following year, Ah Koon died and his youngest son, Loi Boon Sim Adrin (黎文深), took over the business, determined "to keep his father's legacy going". Realising that Ya Kun had a lot of goodwill and potential, Adrin decided to expand the business, so the family opened a second store at Tanjong Pagar and, in 2000, began franchising the brand. Since Ya Kun were incorporated in 2001, launched their first overseas outlet (in Indonesia) in 2002 and expanded their menu (adding ice cream toast and the Toastwich), they have won the 2004 and 2005 Superbrands Award, the 2005 to 2007 SIFST Product Award and the 2008 SPBA-CitiBusiness Regional Brands Award.
Read more about this topic: Ya Kun Kaya Toast
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