Peace Centre kacang puteh seller finds new home at Toa Payoh Bus Interchange, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Peace Centre kacang puteh seller finds new home at Toa Payoh Bus Interchange

One of Singapore’s last kacang puteh sellers has recently relocated to Toa Payoh Bus Interchange, in front of the escalators leading to the HDB Hub.

Previously operating out of a pushcart outside Peace Centre for the past decade, Mr Amirthaalangaram Moorthy had to relocate his stall in July because of the shopping centre’s impending redevelopment.

SBS Transit spokesman Grace Wu said the public transport operator had approached Mr Moorthy in April, and offered him rent-free space with a specially designed kiosk at the bus interchange – costing $15,000 to set up – for one year as a start.

Mrs Wu said the company reached out to Mr Moorthy after learning about the uncertainty of his stall’s future, given the impending redevelopment of Peace Centre.

Mr Moorthy said this was the only relocation offer he had received, and that it came at an opportune time.

His kacang puteh stall was given a new lease of life when it began operations at its new location in Toa Payoh on Aug 1.

The stall is run by Mr Moorthy, 57, and his wife, Mrs Vasantha Moorthy, 58, together with a new assistant they hired in the second week of their stall’s reopening.

Each cone of the old-school snack, filled to the brim with titbits, costs $1.50.

Open from 11am to 7pm from Monday to Saturday, the stall often closes earlier once the kacang puteh is sold out. Every Sunday, Mr and Mrs Moorthy fry batches of ingredients at home to prepare for the upcoming week’s sales.

Mr Moorthy said the new spot is “a lot better”, with increased footfall at the bus interchange, compared with his pushcart location at Peace Centre in the Selegie area, which saw fewer customers as most shop owners and tenants had moved out following the shopping centre’s collective sale.

He said that there has been a 5 per cent increase in his earnings at this new kiosk at Toa Payoh, compared with the pre-Covid-19-pandemic days at his pushcart outside Peace Centre.

SBS Transit approached Mr Moorthy in April to offer him a rent-free kiosk at Toa Payoh bus interchange, and the kacang puteh stall began operations on August 1.  ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

The 57-year-old, who has been selling his old-school snack for 10 years, was coy about disclosing his earnings, saying it had only been less than a fortnight since the reopening, and that he would still need to see how the business pans out.

When The Straits Times visited his stall on Friday afternoon, a long-time customer, Mr Seetho Kok Foo, came by to pass the seller a hand-drawn illustration of Mr Moorthy standing at his old pushcart outside Peace Centre.

Mr Seetho, 67, a retiree, said: “I’ve been buying kacang puteh (from the stall) for almost 20 years, and it still tastes (just) as good... Sometimes I would buy as many as 10 (cones) as my colleagues love his kacang puteh... I hope this new location will bring him more business.”

Long-time customer Seetho Kok Foo (right) handing Mr Moorthy a hand-drawn illustration of the seller at his old pushcart outside Peace Centre. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Mr Moorthy was initially offered a spot next to the side entrance of the McDonald’s restaurant at the bus interchange, but he requested the current location, which is “more centralised”. SBS Transit obliged.

He enjoys plying his trade as the stall brings people of all races and ages together. “I like how they come to tell me that my kacang puteh is delicious,” he said.

Middle-aged and elderly people form the bulk of his customer base at the bus interchange.

In its initial days in the 1960s, the family business – run by Mr Moorthy’s grandfather then – had moved locations several times, from a kampung in Hougang, to Capitol Theatre, to Bedok’s Princess Theatre, and then Queen’s Theatre in Geylang.

Following that, from the 1970s to 2013, Mr Moorthy’s grandfather and father sold kacang puteh from their pushcart in Balestier Road before ending up at Peace Centre.

Mr Moorthy said he hopes to keep the family business going for at least 10 more years, preferably at his current spot.  ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Mr Moorthy said he hopes to keep the family business going for at least 10 more years, preferably at his current spot at Toa Payoh Bus Interchange. He said he was happy with the air-conditioning and high footfall, compared with his outdoor pushcart at Peace Centre.

The public transport operator also provided him with a power outlet that allows him to warm chickpeas up in an electric steamer, so he can serve customers fresh kacang puteh.

Mr Moorthy said his children, aged 18 and 25, do not have plans to take over his business for now but will need to “see how” it goes.

SBS Transit’s Mrs Wu said: “For the commuting public, Mr Moorthy, who is the last of the vanishing breed of kacang puteh men, adds colour, interest and vibrancy to our air-conditioned bus interchange and juxtaposes the past with the present.”