Everyone knows about Chill, or at least they used to. During this Covid era, the convenience store has long faded into the background. But will it make a comeback? It remains to be seen.
What is Chill?
Chill is a cosy convenience store, tucked away by the side entrance of the school swimming pool, occupying a space built into the first story of the Boarding building. It was actually opened to service those staying in the Boarding building, but it soon evolved to service the students who loved to visit during recesses.
When I joined RI as a freshie in early 2020, Covid was still just a part of a story of the city of Wuhan getting ravaged by a new, mysterious virus with unknown origins. Its origins are still unknown, with multiple conspiracy theories propagated by people around the world. Each theory should be taken with a pinch of salt, as there is still no concrete evidence. The SMMs as we know it now was all but non-existent. Chill was the place to get a quick bite.
Why was it so Popular?
It carried a wide array of products, from scissors and tape to snacks, and even ice cream. It sold drinks, some of which could be found nowhere else in the school, although the rest were overpriced versions of those found in the canteen.
However, the chief recipe for Chill’s popularity was their waffles that were freshly made on order. This was sold with a variety of different toppings like chocolate spread, cheese, kaya and much more. Waffles were considered a must-try during a visit, and became the primary reason for the long queues – the waffles made on-site took time, lots of time. Even if you arrived first in scene, it would still take 5 minutes for them to produce a waffle for you. They were much loved because of their crispy texture on the outside, and soft, fluffy texture on the inside. They even served ice-cream waffles, albeit with a short shelf-life once served.
So, What Happened?
In short, Covid happened.
At first, Covid was no more than a minor inconvenience. The store’s popularity was unmatched and the market for its product was still present among both students and staff needing a quick bite. When the first circuit breaker struck, it was still THE place to be, and they were able to survive somewhat. However, when all students were placed on home-based learning, the market for its goods to all but dried up. They closed, waiting for when they could reopen when the student body returned. When we eventually did, Chill was open and waiting. It once again became popular. and stayed that way until 2021.
A New Year
In 2021, they reopened and found that the market was intact. It was the second circuit breaker period that shuttered it once more. When students returned, many of us went there to get our food during recess, only to find that it was closed for the rest of the year.
The Nail on the Coffin
The straw that broke the camel’s back was the coming of age of the Professor Brawn Café at the Raja Block Void deck. When it first opened as a pop-up booth only happening on Wednesdays, it was greeted with much enthusiasm, acting as a direct competitor to Chill. It served what most of us deemed as higher-end food compared to the canteen, and was often sold out in a matter of 10 minutes during the first recess. The new and rotating menu was very fascinating, and everyone wanted a share of the new dishes. Then, when it turned to operating every day of the week, it was a sounding death knell for Chill.
Chill hasn’t been opened since its closure in the middle of last year, and we can only speculate about when it will reopen. With its once-popular foods, it might just be able to rise out of the ashes, but much remains to be seen. If all goes well, next time you visit Chill, hurry or you may have to face the prospect of spending your entire recess waiting for your food…