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.
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.”
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 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.”