So long, Longhouse

Madam Yong Fong (facing camera), owner of Bugis Street Chuen Chuen Chicken Rice handing out flyers to Longhouse customers informing them of the stall's new location in Balestier Road. The 14-year-old Longhouse food centre in Upper Thomson Road closed
Madam Yong Fong (facing camera), owner of Bugis Street Chuen Chuen Chicken Rice handing out flyers to Longhouse customers informing them of the stall's new location in Balestier Road. The 14-year-old Longhouse food centre in Upper Thomson Road closed yesterday.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

It was the last day of operations for hawkers at popular food haunt Longhouse in Upper Thomson Road, but some expressed little longing for it.

Nor was there was any sign of a last-minute rush to eat at the 14-year-old eatery. About two in 10 tables were empty and only eight of the 15 stalls were open at lunchtime yesterday.

Instead, many hawkers looked forward to a fresh start.

"The new place is better. The carpark is bigger, rental is cheaper and it is cleaner," said the owner of Ah Hui Big Prawn Noodle, Ms Mary Quek, who is in her 30s.

Her stall will move to Balestier Market in Balestier Road, along with five other stalls, including the popular Bugis St Chuen Chuen Chicken Rice.

Five others, such as Soon Kee Lor Duck Rice and Te Wei Popiah & Rojak, are moving to a coffeeshop at 100 Tyrwhitt Road, near Jalan Besar stadium.

The remaining stalls will cease business.

The site, which in the past housed other eateries including an outlet of fast-food chain A&W, was sold in January for $45.2 million to listed developer TEE Land for a commercial and residential development.

Ms Quek said business had fallen by 30 per cent since parking fees were imposed last year. It improved slightly after Longhouse's impending closure made the news earlier this year.

Madam Yong Fong, 64, owner of the chicken rice stall, said: "Every time we move, we lose some customers, but we will have new customers at the new place." She has been handing out flyers and telling customers about her stall's new location.

Not all were blase about the closure of Longhouse though. Some stallholders said they would miss the camaraderie built up over the years.

"It would have been better if we could all move to the same place together," said Madam Lee Soo Lian, 53, who helps run the Lucy Pang Yong Tau Foo stall, which will be moving to Tyrwhitt Road.

General manager Marcus Lim, 42, was at Longhouse one last time yesterday. He had been patronising the prawn noodle stall almost every weekend over the past year. "The taste is very different from other prawn noodles in Singapore," he said.

He is not letting the closure take away his appetite for his favourite noodles. "I'll follow the stall wherever it goes."

mellinjm@sph.com.sg