249 Beach Road, #01-249, Singapore 189757
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Where Everyone is Treated Like Royalty


Name of business:

Prince Coffee House

Name of business in other language:


Business location:

249 Beach Road, #01-249, Singapore 189757

Business type:

Food & Beverage




A 45-year-old Hainanese western cuisine restaurant that has served judges, lawyers, ministers, and even the former President of Singapore Dr Tony Tan and his family, Prince Coffee House is an iconic eating establishment for many thanks to its amicable and lovable owner, Uncle Jimmy.

Prince Coffee House is a restaurant that has won the hearts of patrons from all walks of life. From office workers to eager journalists writing food reviews and food YouTubers, the seats of this Hainanese western cuisine restaurant are always packed with customers. From the outside, Prince Coffee House looks like any typical coffee shop that you may find in your neighbourhood. But step inside and you will soon find yourself captivated by the vintage-style posters decorating the walls. The menu promises a taste of the nostalgic past, featuring old-school dishes such as Oxtail Stew, Salmon Steak and Pork Chop. What is more fascinating is how the posters pair pictures of the dishes with photos of celebrities. The faces of a young Lin Feng Jiao (林凤娇) and Qin Han (秦汉) beam warmly at you as you muse over your food options. These famous Taiwanese actors, along with many other directors and celebrities, have dined at Prince Coffee House. Just ask the business’ owner, Mr Lim Low Bok, also fondly known as Uncle Jimmy; he will be more than happy to share his anecdotes. Though Mr Lim is about 80 years old, he continues to work at the restaurant, striking up conversations with customers as he takes orders and fills the coffee house with laughter.

Hailing from Hainan, Mr Lim came to Singapore after a seven-day journey by ship when he was very young. Although he went to school, he struggled with his studies and eventually dropped out. He turned to work instead, taking on a job at the Royal Hotel along Newton Road. He later started working a second job at Tropicana, Singapore’s first nightclub, which was located along Scotts Road. Managing two jobs was no easy task: often working for 18 hours a day. Still, he persevered in order to earn money for his children’s education. His work exposed him to a myriad of experiences; he learnt from the chef at the Royal Hotel and picked up cooking Western cuisine. Completing each assigned task with diligence and efficiency, his manager from the Royal Hotel recognised his hard work and promoted him from a captain to a supervisor. He subsequently took charge of the hotel’s coffee house, along with a Western Cafe and function room. From there, Mr Lim learnt the art of delegating tasks and managing daily operations.

It was also during this time that Mr Lim ran Prince Coffee House with three other partners. In 1977, Prince Coffee House started its operations at the Shaw Tower along Beach Road, which had been renowned for its Prince Cinema – hence giving Prince Coffee House its name.

Prince Coffee House stayed at Shaw Tower for 13 years and relocated to Coronation Plaza at Bukit Timah Road for the next 22 years. During this period, judges, lawyers, ministers, and Members of Parliament became regulars of the restaurant. “The Former President Tony Tan’s wife always came for the oxtail,” Mr Lim recounts. “Since she is an old customer, I would offer to treat her to coffee, but she always rejected my offer. She would order sets of food for her children.” Mr Lim would personally serve every guest, making chit-chat and taking orders them. In the 2010s, when the other shareholders retired due to old age, Mr Lim took full responsibility and ownership of the business. Mr Lim returned to Beach Road, settling for familiar ground, and Prince Coffee House has remained there ever since.

Though it is undeniable that customers love Prince Coffee House for its delicious food, what really gives the restaurant its charm is the sincere care and hospitality that Mr Lim extends to all his customers. In one anecdote, Mr Lim shares how he started the student meal to alleviate the expenses of students, who were still relying on their parents financially. He recalls, “There was an incident where a new recruit asked me, ‘As I am your old customer, can I still enjoy the student offer?’ Yes, of course I gave him the privilege as I feel that he is still dependent on his parents. So I told him, ‘Never mind, if you like to eat pork chop, lamb chop, you can order’.” Mr Lim’s warm affability allowed him to form lasting relationships with the people around him, be it customers, employees, or neighbouring business owners. When foreigners come to his restaurant to eat, some would ask him to recommend shops that sell fishing accessories. He would guide them to the shops in the neighbourhood. In turn, his business neighbours would recommend his restaurant as well. This win-win situation is the result of the spirit of collaboration among Mr Lim and the rest of the Kampong Gelam community.

Mr Lim’s steadfast character is reflected in his management of Prince Coffee House. Operating for close to half a century – the restaurant has not changed its method of cooking, retaining the same flavours of his dishes. Prince Coffee House is truly the palace of good food for its customers. Regardless of who comes into the restaurant, Mr Lim extends the same warm hospitality to every customer. Everyone is treated like royalty within the walls of Prince Coffee House.

Interviewed by Wee Kit Bian, Jeannie Ng, and Laurinda Wee on 5 May 2022.