89-year-old bakery specialising in traditional Hokkien pastries has lease extended another year
For months, the fate of Tan Hock Seng Cake Shop, an 89-year-old bakery specialising in traditional Hokkien pastries, was in limbo.
The shop at Far East Square in Telok Ayer Street was facing closure as its lease was due to end this month.
When The Straits Times visited the shop on Feb 21, its third-generation owner, Mr Tan Boon Chai, 70, said he was still in talks with landlord Far East Organization to extend the lease. A week later, he was told he could stay for another year.
The shop, first located in China Street, moved to Upper Pickering Street in the early 1990s before settling in Telok Ayer Street in 2000.
It sells more than 40 kinds of traditional pastries and its bestsellers are beh teh saw and tau sar piah.
Mr Tan runs the shop with his sister, Ms Tan Siew Heoh, 72. Their grandfather, Mr Tan Tiam, started the business in 1931.
Mr Tan grew up watching his father, Mr Tan Kar Teng, bake pastries and took over the business when he was 20.
The shop has seen its share of well-known customers. But for Mr Tan, the most unforgettable ones are his older customers.
"Sometimes, we won't see them for a while and we get worried. But every time we see someone familiar again, it brings us a lot of joy."
Among the regulars is Mr Ryan Koh, 35, an event planner. He and his bride distributed pastries as gifts for their wedding guests.
"We didn't want the regular thank-you gifts and chose Tan Hock Seng pastries as the taste brings us back to our childhood days," he says.
The pastries were a "hit" with Mr Koh's wedding guests and he still drops by often to buy pastries for afternoon tea or to take home.
Mr Tan, who works every day except the first day of Chinese New Year, says he has been facing manpower shortages and rising rental costs.
"We work very long hours. This business is hard," he adds, "but I'll work for as long as I can."