Swa Garden restaurant closes with a bang

It was all hands on deck as staff cooked for customers in the last days of Swa Garden Teochew Restaurant’s operation.
It was all hands on deck as staff cooked for customers in the last days of Swa Garden Teochew Restaurant’s operation. PHOTO: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS

A well-known Teochew restaurant closed its doors on Sunday, but not before hundreds of customers flocked to the MacPherson eatery.

The two bosses of Swa Garden Teochew Restaurant, which opened in 1999, told Shin Min Daily News in a report on Monday that they decided to fold the business as they could not find successors.

Mr Wu Guangliang, 64, and Mr Chen Daying, 62, added that their health was ailing.

Mr Wu told Shin Min that at least 300 customers visited the restaurant at 540 MacPherson Road daily in its last days of operation. He and Mr Chen went into the kitchen to whip up dishes for diners.

"Many customers ordered our signature dishes, such as roast pork and orh nee (yam paste with ginkgo nuts)," he said.

 
 

"On Saturday, we sold more than 15 roast pigs - thrice the usual amount."

A regular customer, who wanted to be known as Mr Liu, 71, told Shin Min that it was difficult to get a reservation at the restaurant after news of its closing broke.

"I brought my family of six here to root for them, but the roast pork and orh nee were sold out. Such a pity," he said.

Customers were unwilling to see the restaurant close, with many of them staying behind to take photographs with the staff, said Mr Wu.

"Many of them wanted to take pictures with us as mementos. To see so many old customers reluctant to see us go, it was really very moving," he said.

Now that the restaurant is closed, Mr Wu said he intends to take a break, but is unsure what he will do in retirement. "Since I was young, I've been used to being busy. Now that I am suddenly free, I may not be used to it," he said.

To thank their staff for their years of support, Mr Wu and Mr Chen held a special dinner for them at the restaurant.

The restaurant has posted a note on its Facebook page, saying: "Thank you, all our customers, for so many years of support!"

Wistful customers left messages on the post, with one Samuel Lee C.M. saying he was "going to miss their fried kway teow and many authentic Teochew dishes".

Facebook user Desmando Obayashi Goh said it was "so sad to hear that it's closing down forever", while Ng Yvonne said she had reunion dinner at the restaurant every year. "2016 is the last we had there, (it's) a memory to us now," she wrote.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 19, 2017, with the headline 'Swa Garden restaurant closes with a bang'. Print Edition | Subscribe