Attractions

This New Warehouse Cafe Is A Cosy Date Spot For Music Lovers With Vinyl Stations, Highballs & Toasties

Swee Lee Clarke Quay cafe & retail store


There’s been a resurgence of vinyl-listening bars and cafes lately, from Vertigo 26 to the recently-opened Slow Boat. If you live and breathe music, here’s one more to add to your list. Swee Lee Clarke Quay has just opened, transforming a former warehouse into a spot for audiophiles, complete with retail and dining spaces.

It has a bar and cafe, 7 vinyl-listening stations, a cosy hall area with a dining space and performance venue, and a Creator Corner with music editing set-ups and the relevant tools.


What to know about Swee Lee Singapore before heading down


For the uninitiated, Swee Lee Singapore is a local music retailer, founded in 1946 and headquartered in the Lion City. The brand started as a supplier of brass and woodwind instruments for British military bands, but eventually began specialising in guitars and drums in the 1950s when rock n roll became popular.


Image credit: @chinnian via Instagram 

Swee Lee then became the go-to place for both seasoned and beginner musicians to purchase instruments and accessories such as amplifiers, looper pedals, and guitar cables.

The first store opened in Capitol Theatre. Now, you can find its music retail stores in Star Vista, Bras Basah, and the newly opened Clarke Quay outlet. The brand has also expanded into e-commerce and opened stores regionally in Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia.


Work-friendly cafe & bar at Swee Lee Clarke Quay


Although Swee Lee’s known for its instruments, vinyl records, and audio gear, having a cafe in the new space isn’t a far-fetched concept. In fact, this marks Swee Lee’s second venture into F&B after Swee Lee Star Vista.

The new space at Clarke Quay boasts a cosy “living room” or hall area that does double duty as a dining space and performance venue. Besides being aesthetically pleasing, it’s also cosy with plenty of seating options – whether you want to plonk yourself down on a sofa or sit at a dining table.


The work stations are located right by the bar. 

Swee Lee Clarke Quay’s cafe offers locally-roasted coffee by day and cocktails come nighttime. We visited during the day and found that it’s a great spot to work at, especially with plenty of natural light streaming in, a far cry from the clinical white lighting found in most offices. There’s also strong Wi-Fi and plenty of power points to charge your devices, so you can park yourself here all afternoon without worrying about your laptop dying.

However, if you’re the type to get easily distracted, the open-floor concept may not be as conducive as they’ll be people walking around you at the work station.


Image adapted from: Eatbook 

For lunch, there are plenty of food options on the menu – all under $20. Try the Spinach + Cheese Toastie ($15), made out of toasted sourdough, spinach, and melted cheese. This savoury dish is served with homemade marinara sauce on the side. Sweet tooths can look forward to Kaya French Toast & Dippy Eggs ($17), a rendition of this Singaporean breakfast dish.

Waffles are also available here, with options such as Caramelised Banana ($13/half portion, $16/full portion) and Kahlua Tiramisu ($17/half portion, $20/full portion).


Image credit: Eatbook 

Swee Lee Clarke Quay is also a great stop for some tipples before heading clubs along Clarke Quay like Zouk Singapore. Know that they serve up specialty cocktails ($25) shaken up by Employees Only, often heralded as one of the best bars in Singapore.

They’ve been aptly named after a range of musical genres – think Jazz, a smooth and smokey Manhattan that’s a concoction of rye whiskey, peated whiskey, barrel-infused vermouth, orange bitters, and sugar, or Folk, a bitter-sweet espresso martini made out of chilled espresso, dark chocolate, grapefruit vodka, orange bitters, and sugar.

If you prefer classics, there’s also cocktails like whiskey highball and gin & tonic going for $18. Else, red and white wine ($14/glass) and craft beer (from $14) are also available. The plus point is that all prices are nett, and there’s no GST or service charge for food and drinks.


Can you buy musical instruments at Swee Lee Clarke Quay?



Image credit: Swee Lee 

Of course, you can’t go to a Swee Lee store without testing out the equipment. Musicians will love the range of musical instruments and audio gear at Swee Lee Clarke Quay, which are available for purchase. There’s even a guitar “cellar” with a myriad of guitar brands like Fender, Heritage Guitars, and PRS. However, access is by appointment only.


Image credit: @wshejs987 via Instagram

Customers are welcome to “test drive” the guitars before purchasing them – all you have to do is let the staff know. If you’re buying an electric guitar, you can play it at one of the guitar-testing stations.

So far, Swee Lee Clarke Quay is the first place we’ve seen that has stations where you can test through headphones instead of blasting the sound through an amplifier. We thought it was a cool touch as this ensures that it doesn’t get too noisy, especially since there’s also a cafe in the same space. This also ensures that beginners who are too paiseh to play out loud will be more comfortable testing out the equipment here.

Additionally, head over to the vinyl section, which has more than 500 titles across multiple genres, with artists ranging from Michael Jackson to SZA and Billie Eilish. We went straight for the shelf of opened vinyls that customers can listen to at one of the vinyl-listening stations.

It costs $10/hour for non-members. But you can sign up for a free Swee Lee membership and get 1 hour complimentary with any purchase at the cafe, including drinks. Besides solo-listening tables, there are also stations for 2 people, which makes this a perfect date idea with your partner.

We loved the Audio-Technica turntables and headphones that provided a top-tier listening experience. But even if you’re just a casual listener, you’ll be getting quite a novel experience. Who knows, this might just be your foray into vinyl collecting!


Check out the Creator Corner while you’re at it. 


Music lovers should check out Swee Lee Clarke Quay


As music lovers ourselves, we’re excited that Swee Lee Clarke Quay has opened. Besides being a new spot for music lovers to hang out, it’s also the place to catch the occasional live music and open mic performance.

However, since it just opened, it does get crowded during weekends. We’d recommend to head down on weekdays or visit in a few weeks when it’s less crowded, Additionally, while the bar and cafe open from 10am-10pm daily, the retail segment has different opening hours from 12pm-9pm – so plan your visit accordingly.

Swee Lee Clarke Quay
Google Reviews
4.5
(64)
Address
Blk 3B River Valley Rd, #01-06 Clarke Quay, Singapore 179021
Opening Hours:
Saturday 11:00 AM - 09:00 PM Show More Timings
Contact Information

Photography by: Huy Pham 

Dewi Nurjuwita

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