I still remember being filled with jealousy when I first heard about Cereal Killer cafe in London.
A simple yet ingenious idea, it was opened by a pair of identical twins, Alan and Gary Keery, who had cravings for “a sugary cereal fix” while hungover and out for lunch.
“I wish there was somewhere we could go to buy a bowl of cereal.”
From that, the birth of Cereal Killer, a cafe selling over 120 different types of cereal, was set in motion.
3 years on, the cafe has not just thrived, but expanded overseas to Kuwait, Dubai, and Jordan as well.
That isn’t to say that the concept wasn’t tried out in Singapore before.
Back in 2012, there was a similarly named Cereal Killer bar, based at Singapore Management University. However, there seems to be no news about them since their last post in October 2012.
In 2014, contender The Cereal Pantry popped up at Telok Blangah, but if social media postings are an indication, also closed down in the same year.
So perhaps while opening a cereal cafe in Singapore sounds great in theory, the reality isn’t as sweet.
However, 2 local Instagram personalities/influencers have gotten together with a lawyer friend to rekindle that spark with their cereal cafe (yes, another punny name) Cereal Citizen.
Cereal Citizen – An Idea 2 Years In The Making
Founded by social media personalities Qiu Ting (@bongqiuqiu) and Rachell (@pxdkitty), alongside their friend Carolyn, who is a lawyer, starting a cereal cafe was actually an idea 2 years in the making.
“[We] had this idea over 2 years ago and went looking around at place to rent, [however], some disruption happened in between.”
While she declined to comment on it, one can guess that the disruption was Qiu Ting’s messy lawsuit with her former agency ChurpChurp in September 2016.
In July 2017, it was announced that both sides decided to amicably settle the court case, putting an end to an emotionally draining period for Qiu Ting.
However, the dream of opening a cereal cafe still persisted.
“Carolyn asked Qiu for ideas [on what cafe to open] and Qiu suggested for her to talk to Rach about it. And that’s how we decided to do it together!”
And if ‘Cereal Citizen’ sounds like ‘senior citizen’ – that’s actually the point.
“The name came about as a joke. Carolyn said ‘Cereal Citizen’ sounded like ‘senior citizen’ but Rach and Qiu really liked it so..’Cereal Citizen’ it was!”
But why a cereal cafe?
Qiu has a dream to start a cafe, but no talent in cooking!
On a more serious note, it was also because the trio related to the struggles of the adventurous cereal eater – the one who wants to try new flavours, but is afraid of the commitment that comes with purchasing a box.
“We always want to try so many different [types of] cereal, but don’t want commit to one big pack as it would be boring. [There is also uncertainty about whether] it’d be nice or not, and if we can’t finish the pack in time.”
Noticing that there wasn’t any cereal cafe in Singapore, they decided that the time was ripe to start up, and each pumped in a 4-digit figure into the venture.
On 10 Jan, they officially opened for business at a humble space in Hougang Midtown mall.
As a Hougang resident myself, I wondered why they chose Hougang Midtown, a relatively quiet location as compared to nearby malls like Heartland Mall or Hougang Mall.
Other than the fact that the team all live near Hougang, and that rental is cheaper than larger malls, they also know that “good things spread fast” due to the estate’s “strong and powerful community [spirit]”.
Midtown’s tenants also include enrichment centres for kids, “and we can’t think of any other customers who love cereal more than kids!”
A doting mother of 2 adorable daughters herself, Qiu definitely had her own kids in mind when crafting the menu and decorating the shop.
“Maybe adults who are young at heart [too] but yeah, Midtown is also surrounded by schools so [the location is] quite awesome!”
“Business Has Been Surprisingly Good”
While essentially a cereal cafe where you can customise their own bowls of crunch, they also serve milkshakes and ‘Crododo’ (their version of a cronut).
I’ve witnessed Qiu consuming copious amounts of Crododos on her personal Instagram account, and her love for them isn’t just because she’s biased towards her own product – it has also proved to be a hit among customers, having sold out their stocks on several days.
As a special promotion, customers also get a 10% discount off their total bill if they do a special ‘Crododo’ dance.
Since opening, they revealed that “business has been surprisingly good”, and even had 40 people waiting in line for their order on one night – no simple feat for a new cafe.
While the shop has a stable of full-timers to helm the ship during most of its opening hours, the founders still pop into the store every day to oversee operations, albeit still holding their regular jobs.
It’s really like taking care of a new baby. You have to carry it in a cradle initially, then slowly it’d learn how to walk but you still gotta hold its hands…then when it’s more stable, that’s when you can learn to let go a little more – just a tiny weeny bit, I mean!
Future Plans: Promoting Cereal Citizen As An Event Space
But more than just another cafe, there are also plans to diversify the business and promote Cereal Citizen as an event venue.
Currently they’ve already clinched a number of bookings so far, and they’ve observed that most of them are for kids’ birthdays, sweet 16 celebrations, or 21st birthday parties.
“I can understand (the trend), [because] who doesn’t love a Cereal Bar with a huge selection of toppings right? It’s like a candy shop for everyone!”
Cereal cafes are practically non-existent in Singapore currently, so I asked if they’ve spotted any direct competitors, and how they’re going to differentiate themselves lest any pops up.
“So far [we’ve not seen any] yet!”
“But if any pops up we’d just keep doing what we intend to do – to stay fresh, stay cool, and keep the brand growing in the direction we intend for it to grow into.”
The Midtown, 1187 Upper Serangoon Road
#01-47, Singapore 533971