New cafes and eateries open all the time, but some restaurants just hold a special place in our hearts. Swensen’s has stood the test of time and remains a favourite dining destination among families since 1981. Here are some fun facts you might not know.
It’s the oldest restaurant in Changi Airport
Swensen’s opened its first restaurant at Changi Airport in Terminal 1 in 1981 and has been with the airport since then. Its Terminal 1 outlet occupied the viewing gallery at the third storey where diners could watch planes taking off. At Terminal 2, it operated 24-hours at the Arrival Hall and welcomed many passengers on odd hour flights, families gathering for a meal before sending loved ones off, and students looking for late-night desserts.
When Terminal 2’s operations had to be temporarily suspended, Swensen's moved to Terminal 3. Its brand-new outlet at Basement 2 opened in December 2020 and is already a hit among diners!
Changi had the world’s largest Swensen’s ice cream restaurant in T1
Touted as the world’s largest Swensen’s ice cream restaurant, its Terminal 1 restaurant opened to much fanfare. The outlet offered a whopping 50 to 60 different flavours of ice-cream daily and was a popular spot for birthday celebrations, family get-togethers and romantic dates.
But not many know about the brand’s humble beginnings. Founder Earle Swensen started out as a small ice cream shop in San Francisco in 1948. Fast forward to today, over 180 flavours has been created and enjoyed by ice cream lovers all over the world. The Sticky Chewy Chocolate ice cream for one, a dark chocolate ice cream covered in gooey hot fudge, is irresistibly rich and claims the spot as the best-selling flavour.
Fans might also remember its Palm Fruit Ice Cream, Chendol Ice Cream and Salted Gula Melaka Ice Cream. The palm fruit ice cream series was introduced in 2011 as part of a Swensen’s corporate social responsibility initiative, in support of palm sugar farmers in Cambodia. By purchasing palm sugar from sustainable sources, the brand advocated sustainable employment and the preservation of natural farming methods.
And how can we forget about the colossal Earthquake sundae? Eight scoops of yummy ice cream paired with eight toppings that includes a variety of sauces, almonds, whipped cream and maraschino cherries. And this sinfully sweet treat is now available in a neat takeaway option! The next time you want to indulge in a dessert while binge watching your favourite drama series, order the Earthquake In A Box.
This classic has been on their menu since 1981
Tender ocean fresh fish fillet fried to crispy perfection, served with its signature house tartar sauce, addictive U.S Fries and tangy coleslaw – yes, we’re talking about Swensen’s Fish & Chips. This simple but satisfying dish has been a staple on the menu since 1981, and one plate is sold every minute in Singapore!
On top of its extensive offering of comforting Western fare, the American diner also releases seasonal dishes to refresh their menu. Some of the noteworthy creations are definitely its Singapore-inspired dishes! The Nasi Lemak Pizza, prepared with a chilli and cheese base, topped with egg ‘ribbons’, roasted peanuts, ikan bilis, and boneless wings, and finished with a drizzle of coconut-infused olive oil, was launched in conjunction with Singapore’s 55th birthday in 2020. Swensen’s also hopped on the plant-based meat bandwagon and introduced its version with an Asian twist. The Impossible™ Rendang is a delicious pairing of house made rendang gravy with Impossible™ Burger patty, sandwiched between fluffy brioche buns.
Tiffany lamps are seen in every Swensen’s restaurant
Do you remembering seeing these trademark Tiffany lamps at every Swensen’s outlet? In fact, this is a signature feature of Swensen’s restaurants worldwide. These intricate stained-glass lamps are iconic of San Francisco, the birthplace of the Swensen’s brand.
The Tiffany lamps have become a constant element in the design of restaurant, but have you noticed how the interiors have changed over the years? In the 80s, Swensen’s incorporated the dark-tone oak wood concept. Then in the late 90s, it made a switch to brighten the overall look and feel, with the lighter-toned pine wood. The Swensen’s restaurants you see now are more contemporary. The Terminal 3 outlet for example spots a window panel that depicts San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, and brightly coloured seats.
This Swensen’s staff started out at T1 and is now stationed at T3
Lai Ing Err, Area Manager of Swensen’s, started working for Swensen’s as a full-time Customer Service Representative in their Terminal 1 restaurant in the 1980s. She now oversees five Swensen’s and Earle Swensen’s outlets in Singapore and is stationed at the new Terminal 3 outlet.
A passionate individual that takes great pride in her work, Ing Err is well-known among regular customers, passengers and airport workers who frequent Swensen’s. One of her most memorable experiences while working at Changi Airport was an incident that occurred while she was having her lunch break. She noticed a crowd gathering just outside the Terminal 2 restaurant and realised a little girl had injured herself and was bleeding from a cut on her forehead. Without hesitation, Ing Err retrieved a First Aid Kit to stop the bleeding and assisted the girl and her family to the nearest clinic. While the girl and her mother were in the treatment room, Ing Err accompanied the little girl’s sibling. She later bought a new dress for the girl, whose dress had been stained with blood. For going above and beyond her call of duty, Ing Err received the Service Personality of the Year 2017 awarded by Changi Airport.
Swensen’s has also been an avid supporter of Changi Airport’s corporate social responsibility programmes since 2014, with Ing Err mentoring disadvantaged youths for various job attachments.
So the next time you dine at Swensen’s in Terminal 3, do say hello to Ing Err!
Location: Terminal 3 Basement 2 #B2-31/32
Opening hours: Opens daily from 11:30am to 10:00pm