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Elderly couple operate community cafe to help poor students


Community service: Yap and Lee (standing) having a chat with some of the patrons at the ASA Mini Cafe in Taman Sutera, Johor Baru. Looking on is a student from the Alpha Skill Academy.

Community service: Yap and Lee (standing) having a chat with some of the patrons at the ASA Mini Cafe in Taman Sutera, Johor Baru. Looking on is a student from the Alpha Skill Academy.

JOHOR BARU: While many senior citizens prefer to spend time at home and enjoy their retirement, one couple here choose to do social work by operating a community cafe.

This cafe, which operates between 7.30am and 9.30am on weekdays, is now a popular breakfast hang-out for the public along Jalan Sutera Merah 2 in Taman Sutera here.

Richard Yap, 64, and his wife Lee Hooi Kee, 63, run the cafe, which is popularly known as ASA Mini Cafe, while the cooks and waiters are all students doing their baking and coo­kery courses at the nearby Alpha Skills Academy.

Yap said the cafe has been open since May last year to provide on the job training for the students.

“We want them not just to learn how to cook and bake, but also take orders and handle customers,” he said, adding that they have been getting good support from the local community, including a local developer Tanah Sutera Development Sdn Bhd.

He said most of the customers are patient being aware that those taking their orders are students.

“Some of them even provide feedback about the food items so that the students can improve,” he said, adding that among their popular dishes were roti canai and thosai with dhal.

Yap said their breakfast set is priced at RM5.50 for two half-boiled kampung eggs, two pieces of toasted bread served with either coffee or tea.

Other items such as nasi lemak, chicken porridge, Penang fried noodles, Mee Siam and chee cheong fun, are available on a rotation basis.

Yap, a retired bank officer, said parts of the proceeds would be used to purchase the provisions to run the cafe.

“The extra is channelled to the academy to help pay for the course fees of some poor students.

“So far, some 40 students have successfully graduated from the academy in the last nine years,” he said.

Yap added that most of the students were from poor family backgrounds who could not afford the course fees.

Yap, however, added that the cafe was not open for lunch and dinner due to manpower shortage.

He added that they were now in the midst of taking orders for customised mooncakes, which were high in demand every year.

Among the most sought-after flavours are lotus, pandan lotus, red bean and green tea.

   

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