Food Folks @ Lau Pa Sat, a 7,000 sq ft space which champions local retailers and food and beverage (F&B) concepts, is breathing new life into the popular Central Business District hawker centre, which is undergoing renovation.
Launched on Thursday by the FairPrice Group, Food Folks houses 10 F&B brands as well as a retail area with more than 800 food-related items from over 120 brands.
Renovations for Lau Pa Sat started in April and the rest of the food centre will reopen next year.
Diners can expect a range of modern-Singaporean dishes exclusive to Food Folks.
These include prawn soup ramen at Chef Kang's Prawn Noodle House, an offshoot of one-Michelin-starred restaurant Chef Kang's; Ultimate Plant-based Combo Rice by Bib Gourmand-rated Shi Hui Yuan; and S'tay The Night, which features jackfruit satay, from grain bowl concept Smol.
Creme & Cone's first permanent gelateria offers freshly made Waffle Cones and Waffle Lollies, as well as new gelato flavours such as Java Banana Chips and ondeh ondeh.
On the retail front, 70 per cent of the brands are home-grown, while 40 per cent are not commonly found in major supermarkets.
Some have ventured from their online platforms into a physical space for the first time - like local company Edens, which launched online in July and is known for its shiitake mushroom snacks.
It marks its launch at Food Folks with an exclusive mala shiitake chips flavour, and more new flavours are in the pipeline.
Its co-founder Crystal Cheng, 26, says: "With our first off-line presence at Food Folks, we hope to have better access and exposure to our customers and grow our business. As much as e-commerce is common in today's economy, as a new local brand, it is hard to gain online traffic with little brand awareness.
"Entering the retail space is intimidating and there are big risks involved, especially for start-ups like us. Being at Food Folks will allow us to grow our supply capacity and gain experience in working with distribution if we ever enter other retail outlets in Singapore."
Food Folks has also partnered other Singaporean brands - Fossa Chocolate; The 1925 Brewing Co; and Artisan Bricks, which uses Lego bricks for its creations - to launch exclusive co-branded food-related merchandise and edible products.
And in line with the recently announced Made With Passion national initiative aimed at promoting support for local brands, 10 out of the 48 brands under that are featured at Food Folks. These include Gryphon Tea, Janice Wong Singapore, Ng Ah Sio Bak Kut Teh and Brass Lion Distillery.
As part of its mission to support the retail and F&B businesses, Food Folks provides year-long marketing efforts and has waived the initial set-up fees for them.
Mr Seah Kian Peng, group chief executive officer of NTUC Enterprise and FairPrice Group, says: "We understand the concerns and challenges faced by the food businesses amid the Covid-19 pandemic. To support our local food brands during this time as well as to help them plan for their future business developments, FairPrice Group will avail our various support initiatives and network for them to leverage.
"We want to capture and rekindle the nostalgia Lau Pa Sat has for many of us. But at the same time, we want to plan for the future.
"Our lifestyles and palates are changing. The key is to make sure the Lau Pa Sat of the future continues to be vibrant, exciting and memorable."
Next month, Food Folks will hold a #GiftLocal Christmas campaign for people to buy food-related gift packs to spread festive cheer to those in need.
• Additional reporting by Sherlyn Sim
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