Inclusivity starts at Y Café

Our best recipe for a better Singapore for persons with special needs – inclusive employment. Y Café is more than a place you can hang out with friends or get a quick caffeine fix – it is a second home for special needs staff where they gain independence and confidence.


From left: Michael Ang, Hien Hao, Zhang Yan Tong

Once shy and reserved, Zhang Yan Tong struggled to express himself. Now, the Y Café staff with mild intellectual disabilities and down syndrome is fully capable of taking customer orders and reporting to the kitchen independently. He even goes beyond his duties and serves as a mentor for fresh recruits with special needs, teaching and guiding them in the operations of running a café.

His friends include Michael, who has been working at the Y Café for about three years, and Hien Hao, who is under the YMCA Hospitality Training Programme for persons with special needs. The programme empowers persons with special needs by equipping them with hospitality-related vocational skills.

“Yan Tong and Michael have been really good testimonials to what persons with special needs can achieve,” said Alfredo, their supervisor at the Y Café.


Through encouraging them to make their own decisions and to interact with guests, the programme increases their independence and confidence. It also develops their communication and interpersonal skills through real-life working experiences in a nurturing environment.


From left: Alfredo, Yan Tong and Uma

“Michael can do almost everything other staff can do including taking orders, ordering stock and picking up calls,” Alfredo shared.


“My colleagues are friendly. When I make a mistake, they teach me what I can do better,” said Michael. He loves serving customers with a big smile. He shared that the supervisors have been a big help to him, especially when he had difficulties communicating with customers.

Some of the café’s best-selling dishes include the Fish Head Curry, Hainanese Chicken Rice and Nasi Ayam Goreng.


The chicken rice set served fragrant steamed rice and juicy chicken with translucent, jelly-like skin. It was no surprise that the Nasi Ayam Goreng made the list, with a crispy roasted drumstick complementing the flavourful fried rice.


Y Café also serves $4 weekly lunch specials on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays with local classics such as Laksa, Nasi Lemak and Mee Rebus. The Miso Salmon and monthly high tea sets are also must-orders at the café.


A batch of trainees from the YMCA Hospitality Training Programme for Persons with Special Needs

The Y Café is leading by example in efforts to create an inclusive society in Singapore. Come and enjoy the food and interact with our special needs staff personally. Your support at Y Café will help sustain YMCA Community Service Programmes and provide a safe space for people like Yan Tong and Michael.


Y Café (Level 4)

1 Orchard Road, Singapore 238824

Operating Hours: 7am – 10pm daily (last order at 9.15pm)

Tel: 6586 2270 Email: