Written by coffee lovers, for coffee lovers
Rustic-looking furniture, natural sunlight, a high ceiling and lots of greenery - these are just some of the features youai??i??ll notice when you first step into Knots Cafe and Living. An epitome of the latest trends in interior design, this industrial-meets-garden style cafe is definitely cover material for any interior magazine.
With its beautiful space, Knots is no doubt an ideal place for you to unwind and enjoy some food and coffee. If you admire the gorgeous decor and plants around you, you are able to purchase them too. Thatai??i??s because Knots Cafe and Living is a triple combination - an all-in-one flower shop, furniture shop and a cafe. In fact, it was started by Mr Soh Yee How, the founder of local florist chain, Xpressflower.com.
As the fifth person in his family to open a flower shop, Mr Sohai??i??s interest in flowers has traceable roots. His involvement in the floral industry started at 10 years old, when he helped out in the family business. Now, he runs Xpressflower.com, a flower and gift service provider, under which Knots Cafe and Living was started last year.
What inspired the concept of merging a cafe, flower shop and furniture shop into one?
I gained inspiration for the concept during a trip to Hong Kong two years ago. While exploring the old shophouses over there, there was one in particular that struck me. It was a wholesale plant shop that was common to Hong Kong due to the lack of space for nurseries. However, when I walked in, I smelled coffee and discovered to my surprise that the shop was also a cafe! That gave me the idea to combine a flower shop with a cafe, as I wanted to create a refreshing experience for customers whenever they visit.
I decided to add the furniture element for the same purpose, and to delight our customers with new furniture designs every now and then. This helps to complete the whole experience, where you can come by for a drink or a meal and get to bring home flowers and furniture that you really like.
What are some of the challenges youai??i??ve faced in starting your own cafe?
One challenge we faced was a staffing issue. We consider who we hire very carefully, as we place a heavy emphasis on commitment and experience. Hence, it took us some time to find the right people to hire. Iai??i??m thankful that we have some excellent people with us now, such as our main barista who has worked with coffee for more than 5 years.
Is there a meaning behind the name ai???Knots Cafe and Livingai??i???
The word ai???Knotsai??i?? symbolises our desire to bring people together, be it through providing a comforting environment for them to meet, or by offering beautiful flowers with which they can gift a loved one. This is also expressed in our motto, ai???Keeping Us Togetherai??i??.
You also do Social Outreach programs where you employ Persons with Disability and Persons with Special Needs, who make up about one-fifth of your staff. Why is this cause important to you?
We want to give back to the community by helping the less advantaged, including Persons with Disability and Persons with Special Needs. This cause is important to us as we strongly believe that their condition should not limit their ability to do well and contribute in society. Hence, we want to provide them with the opportunity to work and serve.
Another reason is that it helps our staff become more empathetic as well, which I find very heartening. By working alongside people with special needs, the other staff members have learnt to see past their conditions and appreciate them for their contributions.
Your cafe is really pretty! What was the inspiration behind the look and design of the cafe?
Our look was inspired by a cafe near our office in Manila, Philippines. It had an ai???industrial warehouseai??i?? style that was similar to ours, and thus we decided to go with that look as it would match our high-ceiling space, as well as the industrial area that weai??i??re located in.
Although the space can fit more than 145 people, we decided to maintain the seating capacity at 80 to create a spacious and comfortable environment for people to meet.
Do you have any favourite pieces in the cafe?
My favourite piece of furniture would be the wall art next to the coffee counter, as it looks very unique and eye catching. It seems to be popular with our customers too, as I always notice people taking photos of it!
How would you describe your regulars?
Our regulars consist mainly of coffee lovers and people who work nearby. They usually visit us in the mornings to grab a cup of coffee or have a quick breakfast before heading to work. Sometimes we receive customers who came all the way specially for our waffles with ice cream, much to my surprise!
Which is your favourite coffee drink and why?
My favourite is the cappuccino, as itai??i??s neither too bitter nor too sweet, making it a well balanced drink for me.
What items on your menu would you recommend for someone new to your cafe?
Our cappuccino and latte are highly recommended. As for food, Iai??i??ll suggest our carbonara and Knots Wings. For desserts, I recommend the waffle with ice cream, lava cake or rainbow cake. You can also look forward to our upcoming soft shell crab burger, which we are introducing to the menu soon.
Where do you source your coffee from?
We source our coffee from Tobyai??i??s Estate. We tried the beans from many different roasters, but the ones from Tobyai??i??s Estate stood out to us because of the quality and their passion for their craft.
What plans do you have in the future for Knots Cafe and Living?
We are looking to expand the flower business to Manila and Jakarta, and we might open a similar cafe concept in those places. Our three-element concept of food, flowers and furniture has garnered some interest, so we would be happy to take this concept overseas.
Knots Cafe and Living
160 Paya Lebar Road, Orion@PayaLebar, #01-07
Opening hours: 10am - 6pm (Monday), 9am - 9pm (Tuesday to Thursday), 9am - 10pm (Friday to Sunday)