Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Alkaff Mansion to get the Italian job

New tenant plans to spruce up site, serve Tuscan food and pizza

ALKAFF Mansion, built by a Yemeni businessman in the 1920s, is set for an Italian makeover - complete with two ornate European-style fountains out front.

The new tenant of 10 Telok Blangah Green yesterday unveiled big plans to invest $5 million in sprucing up the historic site and open a large Tuscan-themed restaurant and pizza place.

It also hopes to restore the grand old building's status as a popular wedding venue. The mansion hosted opulent wedding parties in its bygone glory days.

The project will employ about 80 staff and will be ready to open by year's end.

The original look will be retained, but food and beverage company LES, which won the bid for the site, said it will enhance the attractive features and details of the two-storey mansion and put up two European-style fountains in front.

The site has a land area of about 8,984 sq m and an approximate gross floor area of 1,220 sq m.

The mansion will house a casual dining restaurant serving Tuscan food, a bar on the second floor, four private dining rooms and a cigar room.

A cafe, with a pizza outlet using a wood-fired brick oven, will operate in the single-story lodge next to it, and will have outdoor seating.

LES, formed in February, has three shareholders - LHN Group, which specialises in adding value to unused or underutilised land, and two chefs.

LHN's portfolio includes a seafood restaurant, as a subtenant at its property in Turnhouse Road, as well as offices at Phoenix Park in Tanglin Road.

LHN will be in charge of the refurbishment and planning the Italian restaurant. Its managing director Kelvin Lim will be the chairman of LES.

Hawaiian Kenji Tanaka Salz, the executive chef at Four Seasons Hotel in Doha, will be LES' chief executive, and Mr Gabriele Piegaia, the executive sous chef at Palio restaurant in Resorts World Sentosa, will be its executive chef.

LES won the tender for Alkaff Mansion after submitting the highest bid of $79,251 monthly rent to the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) in April - almost double the next highest bid of $41,300 from Fragrance Group.

Last Friday, the SLA announced that LES had won the tender after meeting its criteria, which included financial strength and a sound track record.

Mr Danny Wong, the marketing manager of LHN, said LES decided on the tender sum based on proposed site usage, but declined to comment on how the investment would be financed.

Source: Straits Times, 22 Jun 2010

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