Named after a Dublin suburb in Ireland, the Killiney Bungalow was owned by Dr Thomas Oxley, a plantation owner. Killiney Road was named after the house and the row of shophouses on Killiney Road came into being between the 1910s and 1930s.
Comprising mainly of two storey shophouses, they were mostly designed by draftsmen who were allowed under Part Two of the Architects Ordinance to design buildings up to four storeys. The shophouses feature tall ceilings and tall windows.
Among the two storey shophouses lies Singapore’s oldest operating Hainanese coffee shop. Located at 67 Killiney Road, the Killiney Kopitiam was formerly known as Kheng Hoe Heng Coffeeshop, and was established in late 1919 by a Hainanese immigrant.
Famous for its traditional charcoal-grilled white bread toast and beverages such as coffee and tea, the coffeeshop was bought over by former broker Mr Woon Tek Seng in 1992 and renamed Killiney Kopitiam. With key Hainanese staff staying on to assist Mr Woon, who is also Hainanese himself, they passed on their skills in producing quality kaya, bread toast, coffee and tea to subsequent batches of employees.
Killiney Kopitiam has since become a household name, venturing overseas since 2001 with outlets in countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia.
The only four-storey building in the row of shophouses can be found at 117 Killiney Road. Constructed with reinforced concrete and metal frame windows, it towers over the other two-storey, red-tiled roofed shophouses. There is also a distinct lack of embellishments, and the architects used ledges and protrusions along strategic axes to frame its outlook.
Besides its stature, 117 Killiney Road is also known as the birthplace of Jack’s Place Restaurant. It was a collaboration in 1966 between an Englishman, Mr Jack Hunt, and a local Hainanese chef, Mr Say Lip Hai. When Mr Hunt moved back to England, Mr Say bought over the business and decided to differentiate Jack’s Place from other Western-themed restaurants by moving to heartland areas. It is a subsidiary restaurant group under JP Pepperdine company since 2008.
The success of these two Hainanese ventures is an example of the Hainanese influence that permeates Killiney, as well as the timeless appeal of classic, long-established names.
Buildings and sites featured on Roots.SG are part of our efforts to raise awareness of our heritage; a listing on Roots.SG does not imply any form of preservation or conservation status, unless it is mentioned in the article. The information in this article is valid as of October 2019 and is not intended to be an exhaustive history of the site/building.