Some of us might know Yan Kee Noodle House for its Speciality Mee Sua or Bak Chor Mee.
Since 2008, the stall has been running out of BK Eating House, a coffee shop at Circular Road that is part of the Boat Quay night spot district.
Menu and logo allegedly replicated by new stallholders
On August 26, however, Yan Kee wrote a Facebook post announcing that they have moved to new premises, right opposite the original coffee shop where their stall was located:What's notable in the post is the claim that the current "Yan Kee Noodle House" stall at BK Eating House is no longer the original one they have been operating.
At least one claim is circulating online that the owner of BK Eating House has replicated everything, from menu to logo, of the original Yan Kee Noodle House at the stall they used to occupy:
View this post on Instagram
Yan Kee Noodle House (specialty mee sua) from bk eating house will be shifting. Due to landlord problems, they have decided to shift to a brand new premises located at 9 circular road. The owner of the coffee shop have taken over the stall and copied every single items even their logo. Spread the word and support the original yan kee noodle house at 9 circular road Grand opening would be happening on the 29 August 2018 Wednesday 9am #bkeatinghouse #yankeenoodlehouse #9circularroad #bakchormee #meesua #spreadtheword
One can see how this situation is potentially misleading.
The Instagram post above cites "landlord problems" as the reason, and appeals to customers to support the original stall, now relocated to across the street, instead.
However, one should also note that this post is the only one on the Instagram account, called "henhaochisg", shared on August 27 — just one day after Yan Kee's Facebook announcement.
Nonetheless, a quick check on Instagram reveals an August 30 post tagged to the location, featuring a bowl of noodles that looks very much like the original one (although to be fair most noodles look the same):
View this post on Instagram
#cowcow_makan #bkeatinghouse #southbridgeroad #singapore #singaporenoodles #singaporefood #sgfood #sghawkerfood #sghawker #sgeats #eatoutsg #eatlocal #jiaklocal #supportlocal #stfoodtrending #onthetable #hungrygowhere #8dayseat #whati8today #SWWEats #hawkerfood #localfood #bakchormee
Another post tagged to BK Eating House's location sees some noodle preperation in action:
If the date and location tags are accurate, then it would mean that a noodle stall is still operating in BK Eating House, despite the fact that Yan Kee has already moved out.
"What we think is that we [have] been forced out"
In response to Mothership's queries, a spokesperson for Yan Kee Noodle House confirmed that they have moved out of BK Eating House, and explicitly stated that the one in the coffee shop is not linked to them.
"What we think is that we [have] been forced out and they copy our photo and name, act as us and continue."
When we asked if their lease with the coffee shop has expired, the noodle house replied that they do not have a contract.
However, when pressed further for the exact details, Yan Kee simply told us "it's quite a long story", and were not inclined to elaborate further.
BK Eating House: They are not the original owners either
Meanwhile, BK Eating House seems to have a totally different story.
Initially, rather than directly responding to the allegations that they had forced Yan Kee out, a spokesperson for the coffee shop claimed that the owners of Yan Kee (who just moved out of the stall space to across the street) are not the original owners of the Yan Kee business either.
The representative, who identified himself to us as one of the directors of the coffee shop, but who also declined to be named, said the stall was originally rented out to a guy named Ah Lam in the early 2000s.
Back then, Yan Kee was supposedly a family business that had islandwide outlets, but Ah Lam started the Circular Road branch of Yan Kee on his own.
The BK representative also said the coffee shop's management have no idea how Yan Kee's Circular Road branch owners (who have just moved out) came to take over from Ah Lam.
Said they wanted to retire
When we sought further clarification on the accusations that they had "forced" Yan Kee out, BK claimed no such thing had happened.
Instead, BK's representative told Mothership that the uncle managing the Yan Kee noodle stall (that moved out) allegedly told the coffee shop management that he had gotten old and wished to retire.
According to this version of events, BK Eating House had no idea that Yan Kee would go on to set up a new branch opposite them.
The coffee shop co-owner further reasoned:
“Furthermore, we have never increased their rental throughout the 10 years or so with us. So why would we force them out...
They are bringing in business for us and there is no reason for us to do that.“
On copying the original Yan Kee
When questioned about copying the original Yan Kee, the spokesperson said that the signboard has been there "long enough by Ah Lam".
"The person who designed it was the person who printed the signboard if you ask me. No trademark infringement whatsoever."
As for the menu, there is "only so much they can change", as Bak Chor Mee only consists of "that few dishes", he continued to explain.
And one more thing the spokesperson wished to clarify: The Yan Kee stall at BK Eating House (like, right now) is not being run by them — instead, a "brand new tenant" is managing it.
So, in summary:
Yan Kee Noodle House claims —
- They were "forced out" because of rumoured "landlord problems".
- Their signboard and menu and brand name is being copied by people who have replaced them at their stall at BK Eating House.
- They moved opposite after they were "forced out".
BK Eating House claims —
- They never changed their rent, and had no idea Yan Kee would be setting up shop opposite.
- Their understanding was that the uncle at the Yan Kee stall (who moved opposite) said he was old and wanted to retire.
- Besides, the "Yan Kee" owners who moved out don't really have the original right to the brand, which was originally opened by one Ah Lam — but they don't know how ownership or operation of the stall transitioned from Ah Lam to the people who claim ownership to "Yan Kee"
- "Yan Kee"'s claims of impersonation are not valid because the signboard was by Ah Lam, not even by them, and there is "only so much they can change" to the menu.
- Also, the stall at BK is now being run by "a brand new tenant" and not by them.
This is starting to sound like a television series ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Top image from BK Eating House Facebook and @elvielove69 on Instagram