5 F&B enterprises emphasising the “ex” in ex-offenders

If you’ve ever made a mistake in your life and struggled to recover from it, well, that’s only a minuscule fraction of what ex-offenders face when they try to reintegrate into society. The struggles they face can be lightened by employment but let’s be real – how many companies are willing to employ ex-offenders? Thankfully, more companies are offering them second chances. The F&B scene leads the change. If this is a cause close to your heart, you’ll no doubt have heard of Nando’s, Garçons’ and Eighteen Chef’s encouraging willingness to hire ex-offenders. Here are some lesser-known but equally inspiring F&B enterprises that employ ex-offenders.

The Caffeine Experience

Photo Credit: The Caffeine Experience

Matthew Poh may have struggled to imagine a life free from drugs after his ex-wife introduced him to Ecstasy in 1994 but years later, he now runs The Caffeine Experience, a café that hires ex-drug offenders, including at-risk youths and disadvantaged groups. Don’t brush them aside as just another social enterprise, though. The Caffeine Experience draws inspiration from quality coffee cultivated in mountainous areas and sells great coffee too. For the non-coffee drinkers, indulge in other specialty drinks like Tiramisu Cookie Crumble – a treat of blended cookies and tiramisu topped with whipped cream. If you’re not yet tempted, picture this: ice cream flavours like Korean Strawberry, Sicilian Pistachio and Ferrero Recher atop your choice of vanilla or charcoal waffles. A trip to The Caffeine Experience will satiate every sweet tooth!

120 Maxwell Rd
Singapore 069119
Contact: 6224 1640

11 Jalan Tan Tock Seng
Singapore 308433
Contact: 69576729

The Salad Experience

Photo Credit: The Salad Experience

Started by The Caffeine Experience, this salad bar similarly hires ex-offenders but goes in a healthier direction in terms of food offerings. It’s time to bid those spare tiers a callous goodbye – with proteins choices of salmon sashimi, Cajun chicken, smoked duck and salted egg tofu, The Salad Experience will keep you coming back for more.

11 Jln Tan Tock Seng
Junction of Ward Block and Linkway
Singapore 308433
Contact: 6957 6728

Members of The Caffeine Experience and The Salad Experience enjoy a 5% rebate and 20% storewide discount.

Soon Huat Bak Kut Teh

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Photo Credit: Miss Tam Chiak

Tired of peppery broth and missing Malaysian Herbal Bak Kut Teh? Sounds like a trip to Soon Huat Bak Kut Teh is in order! This eatery prides itself on both its food and its social mission of giving ex-offenders a second chance. In fact, ex-offenders make up over 50% of its employees! Whether you’re in the mood for delicious Herbal Bak Kut Teh or craving delicacies like Assam fish head, salted egg crayfish and Teochew Batang fish porridge, a meal at Soon Huat Bak Kut Teh will warm both your stomach and your heart.

302 Bedok Road (Simpang Bedok)
Singapore 469460
Contact: 6273 3338

OneKm Mall

11 Tanjong Katong Rd
Singapore 436950
Contact: 63866916

257 Jln Kayu

Singapore 799485
Contact: 6484 3454

Oh My Goodness!

Photo Credit: Oh My Goodness!

When Ramya Ragupathi embarked on a journey to find a diet that would combat her chronic health problems, she ended up with a solution and so much more – she founded Oh My Goodness!, a company that manufactures gluten-, dairy- and refined sugar-free food without compromising taste, texture and quality. Not content with making such foods available and affordable, she undertook to provide employment to disadvantaged groups. Today, her operations team is staffed exclusively with ex-offenders and disabled persons.

Website: https://ohmygoodness.co/

The Social Space

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Photo Credit: Sassy Mama

This social enterprise started from The Nail Social, a salon that trains and employs ex-offenders, single mothers and at-risk youths. Her desire to create more generic opportunities for circumstantially-disadvantaged job-seekers as well as showcase more socially conscious and well-made fair-trade products led founder Cheryl Ou and husband Daniel Yeow to expand the salon. Now, they run The Social Space, a retail space comprising a café, refillery, florist and nail salon.

Image result for the social space food
Photo Credit: Food On Fork

If you’re not already socially conscious, this is a good place to start – fuel up on wholesome smoothie bowls, open-faced toasts and beverages with ingredients sourced from fair-trade and eco-friendly producers. Then, finish off your meal with cakes baked by special needs and intellectually disabled persons from APSN’s social enterprise bakery. One can’t leave without a look at their products either. From delicious drinks packaged in recycled bottles to footwear crafted from recycled tires, spending money has never been so guilt-free!

333 Kreta Ayer Road
Singapore 080333
Contact: 6655 0221

5 Straits View

Marina One Residences
#01-03 (Garden Tower)
Singapore 018935
Contact: 9099 4181

Second chances are never easy. Why not help ex-offenders with theirs by supporting these F&B enterprises? You can’t change their past, but you can help them change their future.

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