After a two-year dry spell for the shops in Johor Bahru (JB), the wait is finally over.
While some of us may prefer to take a wait-and-see approach, a number of people in Singapore have driven or walked over to JB as soon as they can do so.
On the first weekend since the land borders between Singapore and Malaysia reopened on Apr. 1, business has been brisk, especially for the popular shops that Singaporeans flocked to before the pandemic.
Long queue at Hiap Joo Bakery
The crowd in JB had increased by at least one-fold on Saturday (Apr. 2) as compared to Apr. 1, Shin Min Daily News (SMDN) reported.
Known for its moist and fragrant banana cake (RM12/S$3.22 for 10 pieces), Hiap Joo Bakery experienced long queues on the morning of Apr. 2, with at least 10 people in line at any point in time.
The queue even stretched to the store next door at times. Much like those pre-Covid days.
Speaking to SMDN, the owner of Hiap Joo Bakery shared that they did not expect so many customers to arrive right after the land borders reopened.
As a result, the shop did not have time to prepare more bread and only had 800 pieces for sale on Apr. 2.
As for their top selling banana cakes, the bakery committed to increase quantity for the day by working non-stop from morning to 5pm in anticipation of more customers coming from Singapore.
The coffee shop located opposite the bakery also experienced a boom in business.
The boss of the coffee shop told SMDN she had never seen such a scene in the past two years. She was so busy since 4am that she did not have time to drink water until 10am.
However, she is happy to see the return of the hustle and bustle, she said.
Full house at Kam Long Ah Zai Curry Fish Head eatery
Another popular restaurant in JB is the Kam Long Ah Zai Curry Fish Head eatery.
The eatery's owner shared that at least four or five regular customers from Singapore on Apr. 1 lamented that they could not visit in the last two years.
On Apr. 2, the eatery experienced a full house by 9am with a queue forming outside.
Within an hour, the owner estimated that he had served 40 to 50 customers and he believes that more customers will return.
It was "impossible" to witness such a sight during the pandemic period. On Saturdays, the area was like a "dead city", the owner recalled.
One of the customers that SMDN interviewed had specifically driven in from Singapore to JB to take away the curry fish head for his family.
On Sunday, Facebook user Verdet Tan said that she started queuing early in the morning since 9:20am.
However, she gave up on waiting after 1.5 hours.
Other parts of JB that you may be curious about
Another Chinese media 8world News observed numerous customers at another popular eatery -- Soon Soon Heng Bak Kut Teh near KSL mall.
8world News also updated that more than half of the shops in KSL mall are open.
Dim sum restaurant Canton-i at City Square will reopen soon, 8world reported.
Interested to catch a glimpse of the area around City Square Mall?
Here's the livestream taken by our colleagues when they visited JB on Apr. 1.
Here's how it is inside City Square Mall:
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Top image by @thealleyfoods/Instagram and Verdet Tan/Facebook