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108-year-old Original Hock Lam Street Beef Kway Teow to close for good

Its fourth-generation owner Tina Tan said manpower issues were behind the decision.

Hock Lam Street Beef Kway Teow is shuttering its business for good, announced its fourth-generation owner Tina Tan on Thursday (May 2). 

The last outlet at Alexandra Retail Centre will cease operations on Jul 11, said Tan in a Facebook post. 

Tan, 44, wrote that since taking over from her father 15 years ago, she has grown the business from a stall located behind the old Capitol Building and old Funan Centre to six restaurant-size outlets.

Tina Tan and her father Anthony Tan. (Photo: Facebook/The Original Hock Lam Street Beef Kway Teow Since 1911)

The decision to close was due to manpower issues, Tan said. 

“I may be labelled as stubborn because of my insistence on using only handmade and hand sliced methods to handle all my beef and side dishes, therefore, the labor intensive problems hit us the most when the government keeps revising the policy on hiring foreigners," she wrote.

“Besides beef balls, which is not done in-house, every single ingredients right down to my preserved garnishes are being seasoned and hand sliced by us. Over the past decades, I was told by countless local interviewees these chores seem too menial, low class, low level or blue collar chores should not be done by locals."

Difficult customers were another sore point for Tan, who, in a separate Facebook post, recounted an incident when a customer berated her loudly for running out of limes. She had also posted screenshots taken from CCTV footage.

The "secret recipe" of Hock Lam Street Beef Kway Teow was handed down from Tan's grandfather to her father, 73-year-old Anthony Tan. 

He then taught Tan and her sister how to prepare the dish, she said.

“Anyone who claims to be us is not related to or the original holder of the secret recipe,” she wrote on Facebook.

Tan ended her lengthy post by saying: “It is time to hang the Original Hock Lam Beef's ladle after 108 years! We want to say a huge THANK YOU to all friends of Original Hock Lam Beef. We would not have come this far if its not for the support all of you have been giving. Please visit us and cheer us on on this final lap.”

Source: CNA/bk