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Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Singapore Hawker Centre Story Part Two

So in the previous article we recognized a fact that the booming culture and heritage of Singapore's early day hawker food can neither be replicated nor preserved. Those conditions where hawker food was once a luxury will find incompatibility in modern day Singapore.
New built markets and hawker centres were built to accommodate both cooked food vendors as well as wet market stalls such as raw meat, poultry and vegetables. Dried groceries stalls were actually extensions from provision shops, but still the newly built markets provided fro such transition.
However there were at a few hawker centres that were built especially dedicated to cooked food. The Newton Hawker Centre, Hill Street Hawker Centre, and the Thomson Flyover Hawker Centre, and the Farrer Park Hawker Centre.
The changing faces and phases of Singaporeans' meal habitats and habits also brought about opportunities as laborious Singaporeans find being a hawker is well paying. The demand for hawker stalls went beyond expectations of the then Hawkers' Department and URA mitigated the demand by allowing private commercial buildings to incorporate hawker centres in their planning.
All these happened during a period when Singapore's economy was very robust and jobs and business opportunities were aplenty.
Wherever there are masses of people working, there must be a hawker centre, and the Jurong Town Corporation termed their own hawker centres "canteen". We also see the differentiating between hawker centre and food centres located in commercial buildings.
Right in the centre of business district there are Market Street Hawker Centre, the converted Lau Pa Sat (not this current one), the Cecil Street Multi-storey carpark, and the make-shift hawker centre along the riverside next to Malayan Banking Bhd (now Maybank). There were also in Orchard Rd vicinity the Cairnhill Rd Carpark, one at the 6th level of Specialist Centre, One at the basement of PUB building (now SP), and one inside Centrepoint.
We are now shifted from hawker food as a luxury fare of old to one of daily needs in this third generation hawker story. Generally Singaporeans were having a moderate lifestyle, food prices at hawker centre didn't seem to be much of a pressure on the take home pay. But there is one group of workers that were being outpaced by this development, old folks working in commercial complexes as janitors and cleaners.
Where those at the central business district would close after office hours around 6pm, those in the leisure and entertainment area of Orchard Rd thrives till late. So those operating in that area discovered a gold mine with both working and leisure people patronizing their stalls.
Landlords seeing the lucrative gains by the stall holders naturally demand a share of that jackpot prize. Stall holders not willing to lessen their take home money increased the prices of their fares. But the poor old folks were not considered in this equation, as well as some new clerks and retail assistants with low starting pay.
We will see the coming in of the opportunist that saw the potential of making it big with hawker food in Part Three.

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