These Adam Road Food Centre hawkers are carrying on their fathers’ legacy

Mr Syed Abdul Rahman Mohammad Ahdam's mutton soup is popular even overseas. Miss Eunice Seah has been working at her family's duck rice stall since she was a polytechnic student.
Mr Syed Abdul Rahman Mohammad Ahdam's mutton soup is popular even overseas. Miss Eunice Seah has been working at her family's duck rice stall since she was a polytechnic student.PHOTOS: THE NEW PAPER

SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - He serves mutton soup out of a sense of duty.

Mr Syed Abdul Rahman Mohammad Ahdam continues his father’s legacy by selling piping hot bowls of mutton soup at Adam Road Food Centre.

He owns and operates Bahrakath Mutton Soup at the food centre, which reopened about two weeks ago after six weeks of renovations.

“I had been helping out my father anyway. Since I didn’t like going to school, I decided to drop out when I was in Secondary 1 to work with him full-time,” said the 53-year-old.

He has been there ever since.

His wife helps him man the stall when they open at about 1pm and at night, three of his sons take turns to take over until closing time. They close at 3am every day.

The stall has been at the food centre since it opened in 1973.

Over the years, its mutton soup has garnered quite a following, even overseas.

“I’ve met tourists from Hong Kong who would freeze my soup so they could take it back home to eat,” said Mr Syed Abdul Rahman.

So when the food centre was closed for renovations, his regulars were sad.

“I think some of my regulars don’t even know that we’re open again, but those who do are happy,” he added.

When his father died in 2010, he decided to keep the stall going.

“The soup was already so popular. It would be a waste if I did not continue his legacy.”

Similarly, Miss Eunice Seah, 31, felt it was her responsibility to keep her family’s business going.

She took over Yu Kee House of Braised Duck after the owner, her father Thomas Seah, 60, retired in 2010.

The stall sells duck rice and has four outlets.

During lunch time on weekdays, Miss Seah said she is usually at the branch at Adam Road with two other workers.

“The line here gets quite long so I’m usually here to help out,” she said, in between serving customers.

They have been at the food centre for more than 15 years.

Before the renovation, they told their customers about their other outlets.

She said: “But a lot of our regulars live or work around the area, so coming to Adam Road Food Centre is a routine for them.

“Some of them told us that they felt lost without this routine.”

The SIM-RMIT graduate started helping out at the Bishan branch when she was a polytechnic student.

“I felt that it’s my responsibility to continue the family business after my father retired around 2010,” she said.

“My younger brother is going to pursue a degree in optometry and he was not interested in going into the food and beverage industry.”

Mr Syed Abdul Rahman admitted that he does not know if any of his four children are going to continue in the trade.

“They do help out at my stall when they are free but they have their own jobs and lives.

“It’s up to them if they want to continue in this line,” he said.


The renovations

It has a new coat of paint on the support beams and the roof.

The wooden flooring at the central area is now covered with tiles.

Toilets have also been renovated.

Adam Road Food Centre, which was closed from Sept 5 to Oct 16, reopened on Oct 17.

The renovations were part of the National Environment Agency’s (NEA) Repairs and Redecoration works (R&R).

According to the NEA website, the R&R works are carried out every five to seven years.

Over the longer term, major works such as the replacement of plumbing, sanitary systems, gas pipes, electrical systems, floor and wall tiles and re-roofing are also done to protect public health and safety.

The R&R works is fully paid for by either the NEA or respective town councils.

The hawkers’ rentals are not raised after the renovation.