Since abruptly shuttering its sole store at School of the Arts (Sota) last November, beloved Japanese-style patisserie Kki Sweets disappeared off the radar, taking their pretty, delicate mousse cakes like the coconut and passionfruit-infused Kinabaru with them.
It’s the second time they’ve winded up their shop after rising rental costs forced them out of their original store at Ann Siang Hill in 2013. In 2014 the Singaporean husband-and-wife duo behind the brand reopened at Sota, but sadly, closed down again last year.
“The economy was slowing down, and many independent shops can’t survive in our small economy,” says Delphine Liau, 40, who started Kki in 2009 with her husband and head baker Kenneth Seah, 45. But you’d be pleased to know that Kki (pronounced kay-kee, Japlish for ‘cake’) will be serving its bakes again come early July, this time at new Shenton Way mall Downtown Gallery.
Here's the catch: the couple’s mostly mousse cakes won't be sold under Kki’s branding, and will instead be served from a generic pastry counter within gourmet grocer The Providore’s sprawling new premises at Downtown Gallery’s Basement 1. The couple is now providing all of the sweets at this Providore branch in the CBD. In fact, their mousse cakes will also be supplied to other Providore outlets at locations like Mandarin Gallery and PasarBella.
Delphine explains: “It's an unusual partnership with The Providore where they pay us to set up a pastry counter at their new flagship outlet. We’re small, so we’ve decided to partner with someone bigger [in order to survive]. We came to work with them ’cos Robert [one of the co-owners of The Providore] was a regular customer at Kki. They roped us in ’cos previously they weren’t really specialising in [desserts like] cakes. But there's no Kki branding here because Providore puts their own branding on all the food they sell. But we will be setting up a small Kki sign at the counter to let people know that the cakes are made by us.”
This business arrangement with Providore doesn't limit the couple from opening their own shop independently. “We’re changing our business model,” Delphine adds. “Instead of having our own cafe, we’re planning to partner [other cafes] to set up Kki-branded cake counters within their space. The Sota shop almost killed us financially, so we need to reinvent ourselves in order to keep our vision alive.”
Kki fans should note that Kenneth will personally supervise the baking of all the cakes at the Downtown Providore outlet. He will roll out a new range of exclusive desserts here too, on top of his old Japanese-French Kki crowd-pleasers, such as the Mont Blanc with a fresh cream heart topped with chestnut paste. You can buy the desserts and enjoy them within Providore’s 100-seat cafe area. And soon, you may even be able to learn how to bake Kki cakes — the couple is planning to hold baking classes at the gourmet grocer’s adjoining cooking studio.
The Providore, #B1-07/17 Downtown Gallery, 6 Shenton Way, S068809. www.theprovidore.com