The owner of Guan Kee Fried Kway Teow has revealed the reason behind the sudden announcement of the stall’s permanent closure on Monday (Nov 27).
A post on their Facebook page had announced the official retirement of “uncle and auntie”, and thanked customers for their support over the years.
The stall, located at Ghim Moh Road Market & Food Centre, was founded in 1969 and is run by 78-year-old Tan Hock Guan and assisted by his wife, Chang Kha Noi, 76.
In an interview with Shin Min Daily News, Hock Guan divulged that he had experienced a health scare the week before on Nov 21, which prompted the closure.
He described how he was frying up plates of kway teow in the afternoon as usual at about 1pm when he suddenly lost consciousness. When he awoke, he found himself at the hospital. He was told by his wife that he had fainted.
“Thankfully I didn’t hit my head. I only felt slight pain in my arm and ribs,” he shared.
The doctor instructed the septuagenarian to rest for a month and to refrain from driving. Following the incident, however, the couple thought that it was a signal for them to finally hang up their aprons.
Hock Guan told Shin Min that they had considered retiring two years ago because of his wife’s poor health. “But we persisted as she didn’t want to disappoint our customers,” he said. But they gradually reduced the number of days they operated, opening just two days a week.
“After this incident, we realised health is the most important thing. If something similar were to happen in the future while cooking, we might not be so lucky,” he shared.
They made the painful decision to close the stall immediately and only announced their retirement the next Monday.
Hock Guan told Shin Min that he went into the hawker business more than five decades ago, thanks to the advice and guidance of a late friend.
The stall used to be at Redhill, before they moved to its current location in 1978.
“Before [becoming a hawker], I was just a provision shop employee. It was my friend who suggested that I fry char kway teow and guided me. I made some improvements and established a unique flavour which got me to where I am today,” he shared.
The stall was awarded the Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2019.
And with business booming in the past five years, the couple decided to open the stall earlier in the day, clocking more than 13 hours daily.
Hock Guan and his wife would head to the stall at about 2am to prepare the ingredients, after which he’d fry up more than 200 plates of noodles a day, before closing the stall at about 4pm.
The lengthy working hours have undoubtedly taken a toll on the elderly couple.
In the Facebook post, many commenters expressed sadness at the closure but also wished the couple well in their retirement.
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