A Father's Love Made For Generations To Come by Soo Eelee
With Father’s Day just round the corner, we are uplifted to share the heart-warming story behind the local café, P Bistro.
A Gift from a Father
Since the 1980s, a rustic shophouse along Owen Road laid a bicycle repair shop frequented by many in the Pek Kio neighbourhood. This shop belongs to the father of P Bistro owner and pastry chef, Tan Min Yee. Continuing the legacy of his family's means of living from repairing bicycles, he worked hard by opening the store 7 days a week, rain or shine.
As Min Yee grew older, she became more sensible and started worrying about her father’s health and began coaxing him to retire. But even her attempt to intervene and take over the business fell on deaf ears when her father sensed that her passion was not in bicycles. This was when Min Yee decided that she had to go find out for herself what she was really passionate about and could share a connection with. During the economic downturn in 2009, Min Yee made the bold move of quitting her job and taking up a pastry diploma at the local Shatec School as she was tired of working for others. Little did she know, this little step quickly flourished into a natural attraction with pastries when she realised she could actually bake. After a year at Shatec, she took it further by enrolling herself into Le Cordon Bleu in Paris to pursue the dream of eventually becoming a pastry chef.
Upon returning from Paris, she started baking at home on request from family and friends for special occasions and celebrations. Soon, her little hobby became so well-received it was too much for a domestic oven to hold. This sparked off her initial plans to follow her dream of becoming a pastry chef and owner of a local café, serving food that nourishes the body whilst warming hearts. When Min Yee’s father learnt about her daughter’s dream, he decided it was time to let go of the shop and allow the next generation to fulfil their dreams. Having worked hard for over 3 decades, letting go of the shop was no easy feat for the shy, gentle family man. Despite that, he was heartened to finally have one of his 3 children willing to take over the space and make something out of it.
Story of P Bistro
Being located in a neighbourhood area, Min Yee and her husband realised that they needed to offer more than just good food. Keeping the menu small and feasible, P Bistro worked on building rapport with their customers and enticing them to come back again and again.
Food-wise, P Bistro clings strongly to the motto of ‘Bonne Nourriture’ - healthy good food, must be supported by a clear, concise menu so nothing is lost in the translation.
From fresh roast chicken to lean flat iron steak, salmon, and pasta, all ingredients are carefully thought through and selected for their premium quality at an affordable price that people of all ages and nationalities can relate to. As a strong believer of wholesome eating, Min Yee wants the food served at P Bistro to be able to boost energy and immunity levels.
Hence, she has kept her focus on providing what’s good, nutritious and at the same time, delicious for her consumers and hopes to nurture and grow this F&B business, the same way her dad managed to stay in his bikes business for the last 3 decades.
5 Minutes with Min Yee and her Father
BetterThanBrunch (BTB): Growing up, have you always been Daddy’s Little Girl? How would you describe your relationship with your dad?
Min Yee (MY): When I was young, my dad was more of a disciplinarian who’s known for enforcing a strict father and child relationship. It had to be that way as my dad was trying to make ends meet by starting out his bicycle shop with a young family - a housewife and three kids. We were all living in the shophouse then and being the eldest, I had to help with the household chores and take care of my siblings while my parents worked downstairs at the shop. He expected me to lead by example and ensure that all of us finish our school work on time.
I love and respect my dad a lot. From an early age, he taught me life is hard and never to take anything for granted. He taught me never to despise any job and even if we manage to make it big in life, we should never hesitate to roll up our sleeves to clean dishes, sweep the floor, take care of the old and frail whenever the situation calls for it. This has been a constant reminder for myself even till today when I’m slogging it out in the kitchen.
BTB: What was your fondest memory with your father back in the days when he still owned the bicycle shop?
My: I remember him working very hard from morning till night every day. I am most happy when I am able to help him out, even up till now. I remember whenever he had a new shipment of bicycles arriving at the shop, I would volunteer to help him by carrying all the boxes of bikes and spare parts for a small fee of 50 cents each trip up the stairs. It was great exercise for me and I enjoyed spending a portion of my earnings at the mama store in the neighbourhood buying sweets for my siblings and myself.
I also enjoyed conversations with my dad when I work alongside him at the bicycle shop, polishing the bicycles as he tells me stories of his life growing up as an adopted kid and how much he treasures us and wants to provide the best for us in order to make up for what he always felt was missing out in his life. Those stories spurred me to treasure what I have and prompted me to do my best and hopefully be able to provide for him when he retires, the same way he brought us up.
BTB: What’s the one thing your dad taught you that you would like to pass on to your kids?
My: He is a great believer of saving and living way below his means. I would like to remind my kids to work hard for what they want and guard what they have prudently. I would like them to build strong characters and never yield to peer pressure and temptations, gearing whatever they have in pursuit of materialistic wants. They should never be defined by what they are wearing, the kind of houses they live in, cars or bags they own. I’ve heard too many horror stories of how people are on credit and living in their bubble of financial woes!
BTB: Children tend to drift apart from their parents as they get older and have their own lives, how do you keep this father-daughter relationship strong?
Mr. Tan: Although Singapore is a small country, I always believed that a family must try to stay as close to each other as possible. With the opening of P Bistro, the family now has a common place to meet and have long dinners together. As long as everybody is together, the bond will continue to be strong.
BTB: What’s your favourite pastry made by Min Yee?
Mr. Tan: I like all of them. It’s too hard to only choose one.
Min Yee: When I think about baking something for my father, I always try to incorporate some chocolate in it. So I guess it would be safe to say that my chocolate cake is his favourite? [laughs]
BTB: What’s your idea of a perfect Father’s Day present?
Mr. Tan: Nothing fancy, really. Something as simple as having a meal together would most certainly make my day. There’s nothing more precious than a family spending time together.
142 Owen Road
Did the touching story behind P Bistro move you as much as it did for us? Don’t forget to spend some quality time with Daddy this Father’s Day. A gesture as simple as having a meal together will go a long way in showing your appreciation for the most important man in your life. On behalf of BetterThanBrunch, we would like to wish all fathers a Happy Father’s Day!