30 Years of Memories at Marine Cove McDonald’s

A favourite hangout place for many, the McDonald’s outlet at Marine Cove, East Coast Park, has served a generation of Singaporeans well for the past 30 years.

Students used to visit the place for a drink after their participation at the nearby Road Safety Park. NSF (Full-Time National Servicemen) would enjoy a break there upon completion of a 5km run at East Coast Park on Saturday mornings. It was also a popular rendezvous for lovers, a birthday celebration for kids or simply a place of gathering for friends and families.

The first McDonald’s in Singapore was operated at Orchard Road’s Liat Towers in 1979. With the rapid growth of the franchise, its Marine Cove (formerly known as East Coast Recreation Centre) outlet was opened three years later in 1982. Marine Cove became popular among the crowds, with arcade (Funland), a 25,000 square-feet bowling alley (Marine Bowl), snooker saloon, theme park and other café and restaurants added over the years.

Marine Cove was formerly owned by Rock Productions, the business arm of Christian organisation New Creation. The National Parks Board (NPB) had intended to take over this popular beach haunt in September 2011, but decided to grant a six-month extension to the affected 32 tenants. The redevelopment plans of the area are not disclosed yet, but the buildings are likely to be demolished soon.

Come 18th of March 2012, this popular 30-year-old McDonald’s outlet will be closing down for good. Burger lovers can still get their fix at the new McDonald’s outlet at East Coast Seafood Centre, but in order to become a special place of fond memories, it will probably take another generation or so.

Published: 15 March 2012

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14 Responses to 30 Years of Memories at Marine Cove McDonald’s

  1. Roy says:

    I’m gonna miss this place…

  2. marine parade resident says:

    The photo captioned ‘East Coast Recreation Centre 1981’ does not show Marine Cove, but what was known as ‘Big Splash’. Marine Cove is somewhere to the right of the upper half of this photo.

  3. I saw a video of this in Vimeo. A sad ending for a Singapore institution. I do hope that the new design will incorporate this area, remembering its history and its importance to the formation of the contemporary Singaporean psyche. http://vimeo.com/38904928

  4. Allan Chua says:

    It all started here, there was a snooker room on the top of this McDonald. and a McDonald playground just infront of Travern on a Square.. Waooo that”s been 25+ years

  5. I was there on the last day to witness the closing . good memories

  6. Another favourite haunt for students, the iconic King Albert Park McDonald’s will be closing in mid-March 2014 after 23 years of operation

    • Bluescreen says:

      That used to be our McDo and Cold Storage when we were exchange students at NgeeAnn Poly. I used to pick up cheeseburgers on my way to the bus stop to go to Orchard. Pity to see it gone. Our first impression when we got lost trying to reach Sim Lim Square by bus seems to be correct Singapore is like `SimCity’, somebody deciding to build and demolish houses. While on one hand I admire the rapid adjustment / improvement of the infrastructure, the downside of it is that landmarks disappear. I usually return to Singapore every few years and every time I have to almost completely find my way again as everything seems to have changed.

      I’m now living in Belgium, and infrastructure over here is a disaster, the smallest upgrade to roads or railway seems to be taking decades to be implemented. I think they are now for 10 years modernising the railway station in Leuven.

      I like your blog, especially the part about the HDB Blocks (never stayed in one, we were based in Kismis Ave 92 at the time) especially since we of course went there for shopping and eating quite often.

  7. christine says:

    I miss Marine Cove. I grew up loving that area

  8. Long-time East Coast seafood joint to go


    Saturday, Jan 17, 2015

    SINGAPORE – After almost 30 years in its current seaside location, Red House Seafood at East Coast Seafood Centre will be gone by March 25, when its lease expires.

    It is the only remaining tenant of Block 1204, which is set to be demolished in April. The other two blocks are not affected. The move is to create more open space in the park, said the National Parks Board (NParks), which manages the centre.

    “To enhance (East Coast Park’s) coastal identity, NParks strives to make available green spaces with sea views where possible,” said its director of parks Chia Seng Jiang in response to queries. “Block 1204 will be removed to create more greenery and open spaces for public use and enjoyment, with a sea view.”

    The move is part of continuous efforts to improve the park and its amenities, he added. The McDonald’s outlet at Marine Cove was another park landmark that closed, in 2012. The East Coast branch is one of three Red House Seafood outlets, with the other two located in Robertson Quay and Prinsep Street. The original restaurant was established in 1976 in its eponymous red house in Upper East Coast Road. It moved to East Coast Parkway 10 years later. Chilli crab and lobster noodles are among its specialities.

    The Straits Times understands that Red House Seafood has no immediate plans to open another outlet to replace the East Coast one. The management could not be reached for comment. One of those who will miss the East Coast branch is retiree Simon Kee, 66. He visits East Coast Seafood Centre only once or twice a year, but whenever he does so, he always eats at Red House Seafood. “Of course I feel sad,” he said, when told of the impending closure. “The food here is good.”

    Of the seafood centre’s three blocks, Block 1204 is set farther back from the shore. After it is demolished, those wanting seafood by the coast can still visit Long Beach or Jumbo Seafood.

    “Access to these outlets will remain open at all times, where park users can continue to enjoy dining by the seafront,” said Mr Chia. For retiree Peter Tan, 60, that will suffice. He visits the centre a few times a year with friends, and the restaurant they choose depends on who is organising the meeting. “I don’t really have a particular one I like,” he said.

  9. Another familiar spot at East Coast to be gone soon…..


    Long Beach, other East Coast Park outlets to go by next February

    10 February 2016

    Businesses at the sports and recreational development Raintree Cove — home to the popular Long Beach Main Seafood Restaurant, a fixture at East Coast Park — will be putting up their shutters by next February.

    TODAY has learnt that the lease for the space lapses on Feb 28 next year, and tenants are expected to make way for the land’s development. Master tenant Raintree Cove was granted a final extension by the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) last March, “pending commencement of the development”, an SLA spokesperson said in reply to TODAY’s queries.

    Long Beach and fast-food chain Burger King, which opened there in 1992 and 2006 respectively, are among the development’s long-standing sub-tenants. A Lorna Whiston preschool is also housed there. The National Parks Board plans to take over the site in March next year and will share details of the development plans when ready, said its director of parks Chia Seng Jiang.

    This will mark the latest in a series of development works at East Coast Park, which draws more than seven million visitors a year. The redevelopment of another enclave, Marine Cove, which has been shut for nearly four years, is expected to wrap up by the middle of this year.


    Property analysts interviewed by TODAY offered a range of possibilities for the Raintree Cove site.

    Century 21 Singapore chief executive officer Ku Swee Yong surmised that the area could see more sporting facilities, such as for outdoor sports. Noting the Republic’s lacklustre retail conditions, he added: “I don’t think it will be a significant new retail or F&B concept.”

    Creating more retail space, he said, would also dilute the crowd from the offerings elsewhere in the park.

    Property consultancy Chris International’s director Chris Koh disagreed, however, believing that there is still space at the park for more F&B and retail developments. It would make commercial sense for the site, which has established a reputation for its F&B offerings, to continue as an F&B-centric space, added Mr Nicholas Mak, head of research and consultancy at SLP International Property Consultants.

    He said demolishing the existing development would be necessary only if there are plans to increase the floor area or reconfigure its layout, or if the buildings are too old, among other factors.

    Analysts also noted that if more recreational options were to be introduced, having adequate parking spaces would be an important consideration. Given that parking during peak seasons and weekends was “already an issue”, Mr Ku cautioned against setting up more retail and F&B spaces unless parking and public transport to the area are improved.


    The Raintree Cove site had initially been awarded to the firm from Sept 1, 2006 to Aug 31 last year, through an open tender.

    While the expiry of the lease is a year away, some sub-tenants are already sad about having to leave. Lorna Whiston Schools’ regional director of marketing and business development Esther Wong said: “(Raintree Cove) has held a lot of memories for our children, parents and staff.”

    Some parents had decided against enrolling their children in the preschool because of the possibility of relocation, she noted. The preschool is now on the lookout for a new location in the east and will share details when it is confirmed, said Ms Wong, who added that finding an ideal space was a challenge.

    For the F&B establishments, the possible impact of the move on their customer base was a concern. Mr Jack Kang, Ju Shin Jung East Korean Charcoal BBQ Restaurant’s business development manager, said: “The most significant impact will likely be on our regular customers and weekend customers.”

    The restaurant has not found an alternative location. “To find a suitable place may need more time,” said Mr Kang. Burger King’s management said the fast-food chain would review its options once the discontinuation of its lease is confirmed.

    The patrons TODAY spoke to were unaware of the expiry of the area’s lease, and most were sad to hear the news. Madam Gina Wee, 48, a resident of nearby Marine Terrace, visits East Coast Park every week. “There are some feelings attached after so many years. It’s just the convenience because we live opposite, and it’s near the beach,” she said.

    The Burger King outlet there has also become a well-known “meeting point” for many, said business owner Roszanah Abdul Salim, 34. “This is like the identity of East Coast Park,” she added.

    Legal counsel Chan Chiew Fai, 40, who has taken his foreign colleagues to Long Beach over the past decade, said the restaurant “has always been a classic if you want seafood”. “It’ll be a shame if we no longer have this place to come to,” he said.

    Nevertheless, other dining options abound, said Madam Karen Shee, 52, who visits Long Beach every other year. The insurance professional felt that Raintree Cove required some development: “Some of the structures are quite old and are not really organised.”

  10. A new McDonald’s will be opened at the redeveloped Marine Cove

    East Coast McDonald’s is back, with a salad bar and wireless charging stations

    25 June 2016
    The Straits Times


    “The old outlet delivered many memorable moments, but we want to start a new generation of feel-good memories here.”

  11. Big Splash bosses pulling the plug

    16 July 2016
    The Straits Times

    In its heyday, Big Splash was known for having the tallest water slides in Singapore.

    Though the flumes and water park were demolished a decade ago, the attraction has retained its name and still pulls in 300,000 visitors a month with its dining and recreation amenities. But after 40 years in operation, the establishment is going out, not so much with a big splash, but a small drip.

    Bosses have revealed it will close its doors on Oct 21, when its lease with the National Parks Board (NParks) expires. It will make way for a new development on the 2.83ha plot, details of which are yet to be revealed.

    Fans of the park, including those who remember its original format, are sad to see it go.

    Data entry clerk Florence Lim, 39, said: “One of my favourite memories with my late father is when he took us to play at the colourful slides. Back then there was no Wild Wild Wet, so Big Splash was very adventurous and exciting. I also took my two sons there a few years ago and had a nice time.”

    Madam Lim plans to have a family outing there before it closes. “We will definitely take photos this time to remember it,” she added.

    Student Ang Wan Qi, 20, said: “I used to go there after visiting my grandparents. I have fond memories of playing mini-golf at Lilliputt with my family where I was very competitive with my brother. I am devastated to find out it is closing.”

    Tenants are also disappointed, though some have managed to secure two-and-a-half-month extensions to their leases. Mr Walter Goh, director of Fish@Big Splash – a fishing and prawning attraction, said: “We have extended with NParks for now, but we are looking for somewhere with a more long-term lease.”

    Others among the 21 tenants have already found a new site. Outdoor gear store Hornest has rented space at Oxley Business Park and plans to move there in September. Owner Tay Choon Mong said: “After the opening of Parkland Green nearby, retail here is quite bad and we are struggling. The crowd here has become limited.”

    Alpha Gymnastics will move to Chai Chee Technopark, a 10- minute drive from Big Splash. Head coach Howard Cheng said: “It will be more convenient for our current customers as we understand that most of them stay in the east.”

    Seafood International Market and Restaurant will shut on Sept 15, according to a post on Big Splash’s Facebook page. It has been at the park for 33 years. Director Justin Tan said: “We have been trying to find something similar in terms of location for the past year after being actively in talks with NParks for the past 18 months.

    “There are several options such as waiting after NParks redevelops the area. They have welcomed us to re-tender then.”

    While smaller tenants were offered lease extensions, Seafood International was not given the option. Mr Tan added: “It’s very difficult to give up a place we’ve been at so long, but we’ve come to terms with it and we’ve had a good run.”

    Redevelopment of Big Splash is expected to begin early next year.


  12. KY says:

    A bit of soul is taken away each time an old building with character and memories is replaced with a new sparkling brand new building. The previous Mac has rollerbladers coming in to order take aways, it is a unique feature not found anywhere else. It was a meeting place where you can rent blades and buy drinks from in 7eleven. The new building is just like all the soulless shopping centres with restaurants that dotted the island.

  13. McDonald’s outlet in Ridout Tea Garden to shut in December after 32 years in operation

    23 April 2021
    The Straits Times

    A 32-year-old McDonald’s outlet in Ridout Tea Garden will be closing its doors in December.

    A spokesman for the American fast food chain told The Straits Times on Friday (April 23) that the outlet will cease operations upon the expiry of its lease.

    The Ridout Tea Garden outlet is among the oldest operational McDonald’s outlets here, having opened its doors to customers in 1989.

    The oldest operational outlet is at People’s Park Complex. It has been operational since 1979 – the same year that McDonald’s made its Singapore debut at Liat Towers.

    Also among those outlets that are at least three-decades old is the one at Hougang Street 21, which opened in 1984 as the first fast food restaurant in a housing estate here.

    Ridout Tea Garden was built at a cost of $500,000 by the Housing Board in 1980 at the spot formerly occupied by Queenstown Japanese Garden, which was razed in a June 1978 fire.

    The old garden, which was built in 1970, had 23 shops; the new garden has a single-storey eating house pavilion occupied by McDonald’s since 1989.

    Built beside a pond, the pavilion housed a KFC outlet from 1981 that McDonald’s eventually replaced.

    Its impending closure follows that of other iconic McDonald’s outlets over the past decade, such as the 23-year-old outlet at King Albert Park that shut in 2014 and the 30-year-old outlet at Marine Cove, which closed in 2012.

    While the McDonald’s spokesman did not elaborate on why the outlet was closing, he added that customers in the area can visit its outlets at Queensway Shopping Centre and at Metropolis, located in Buona Vista.

    A spokesman for the Singapore Land Authority (SLA), which currently manages the garden, told ST on Friday that the 57,453.9 sq ft site, which includes surrounding greenery, is currently tenanted to Hayman through an open tender since April 1, 2016.

    It includes two lettable units, one of which is occupied by McDonald’s.

    SLA said that Hayman’s tenancy for the site will be expiring on Dec 31, 2021, and that the authority has launched a tender for the site.

    When ST visited the site on Friday, the other unit, which used to house a Thai restaurant, was empty.

    McDonald’s staff that ST spoke to said they were unaware of the impending closure, and declined to comment further.

    ST understands that the longest-serving staff member at the outlet has been working there for about 13 years.

    Customers reminisced about their memories at the outlet when told about its planned closure. One, who gave her name only as Madam Kwek, said she recalled bringing her children to the outlet when they were in primary school.

    “Fast food was a growing trend then and it was new and exciting for the children,” said the retiree who is in her 70s.

    “It caught on quickly and they were happy to experience it.”

    Others, like Mr Jack Ong, 38, said the Ridout outlet is different from other fast food joints, given its picturesque setting.

    “It offers nice views with a pond and just earlier I saw about four otters frolicking in it,” said the e-commerce business owner.

    Queenstown resident Ethan Ong said he will miss his family’s weekend breakfast spot, which they affectionately call “the turtle place” after the fish and turtle pond the garden is known for.

    “I remember going there since I was about five because it was near my grandparents’ home in Farrer Road,” said the 24-year-old student, who added that he recalls running around the pond and watching turtles sunbathe as his parents ordered food.

    It was also a go-to place to hang out on late nights out in his teenage years, as it was open for 24 hours on Fridays and Saturdays.

    At least two groups interested in bidding for the site were seen on Friday.

    The SLA spokesman added that bids for the site will be evaluated using a price and quality evaluation format, with half the overall score assessing the quality of the concept and the other half the bid price.

    The indicative use of the site is for food and beverage, or retail.

    “The tender is an opportunity for interested parties to tender for a fresh 3+3+3 year tenancy for the sites,” said the spokesman.

    “The incumbent tenant and sub-tenants are welcome to participate in the tender if they wish to continue their operations.”

    Mr Ethan Ong said he hoped that any new tenants will retain the garden’s natural feel, and remain family-friendly.

    “I feel a sense of loss not just because of its sentimental value, but also because nowadays it’s uncommon to have a fast food outlet so close to nature,” he said.


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