The super popular China Street Fritters at Maxwell Food Centre was supposed to close down for good by March 2022.
But that plan has been put on hold.
Following intense feedback from fans, the hawkers have decided to hang on for a tad longer as they continue to look for a prospective buyer for their recipe tentatively valued at S$1 million.
The famous Hokkien-style ngoh hiang fritters are still being sold at the stall with a 80-year history, where it went from street hawking to a proper hawker outlet.
The items are still hand-made by the second-generation owners Ng Kok Hua, 65, and wife and sibling, Ng Kok Rong, 66.
The original plan was to close the stall by March 2022, even if there was no buyer for their recipe.
What is going to happen to the stall now?
None of the hawkers' children want to take over the business.
Kok Hua's three children are working in the aviation, insurance, and banking industry.
Kok Hua's eldest sister, 79, and who previously ran the stall as well, has retired but she found herself too old to do the things she wants to do -- a cautionary tale for the rest.
She was the trusty right-hand woman that shared the load of running the business.
With her gone, and with no one getting any younger, times are bound to get tougher.
But the hawkers have since been bombarded with messages from long-time customers, who begged and scolded them not to close as news of their impending closure spread like wildfire, the hawkers quipped, according to 8 Days.
Call before going down to eat
To keep the peace and ensure the traditional tastes of their ngoh hiang fritters live on for now, the stall will operate on shorter hours with no fixed days, four days a week.
Famished customers are urged to call the phone number listed at the stall before showing up at Maxwell Food Centre to avoid making a wasted trip.
Prospective buyers on the horizon
The hawkers are also in the midst of negotiating a buyer for the business.
The asking price of S$1 million has been lowered to S$800,000.
But it is not a price set in stone.
Regarding the eyebrow-raising S$1 million asking price, Kok Hua explained to 8 Days: “The S$1 million is just a figure. What’s most important is that (the buyer) has the passion to continue our legacy, so that the next generation can continue to enjoy our food.”
A company that was interested in taking over was offering S$500,000, but that amount has been put on hold as the F&B industry in Singapore is still in the doldrums due to the pandemic.
Another interested buyer had put in a lowball offer of S$100,000, but that would not be enough to fund the hawkers' retirement.
The owners intend to split the money from the sale among themselves, as they do not have CPF to fall back on, 8 Days reported Koh Hua saying.
Can make money?
A few months earlier, Kok Hua told Shin Min Daily News he believes the buyer of the business will be able to recoup the money within three years.
A lifetime of hard work
Kok Hua inherited the business from his father when he was 16 years old.
Being a long-time hawker has taken a toll on their bodies.
Kok Hua told Shin Min previously: "We work about 10 hours every day, with almost no rest days in a year. It's very taxing on the body."
"Now that we're old, we aren't as strong physically. We can't work even if we want to. We have feet ailments from standing too long, our kneecaps also hurt. We have to seek traditional and Western medical treatment often."
Kok Hua has varicose veins from standing too much, he told zaobao.com.sg on March 13.
He had a surgery seven years ago, and the condition is not serious now.
But Kok Hua said he spent a lifetime sleeping just six hours each night, and is now exhausted.
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