SINGAPORE - After 20 years in Outram, the flagship Ka-Soh restaurant will close on June 26.
The brand is best known for its traditional Cantonese-style fish soup with a rich, milky broth achieved by hours of boiling.
This outlet - located at the Alumni Medical Centre at the Singapore General Hospital - has been a recipient of the Michelin Guide's Bib Gourmand accolade since 2016.
The last remaining Ka-Soh outlet in Greenwood Avenue, which opened 2½ years ago, remains in business.
Its sister eatery, Swee Kee Eating House in Amoy Street, shut in May 2021.
It was one of the many food and beverage victims of the pandemic, as business was hard hit with its Central Business District diners working from home.
Since announcing the flagship's closure, the outlet has been a "mad house" with diners, says Mr Cedric Tang, 37, third-generation owner of Ka-Soh.
However, manpower issues - compounded by rising costs of food and logistics - have made it extremely challenging to carry on.
After his father died in March, some staff have retired, while others have returned to Malaysia and China.
Hiring new staff would also require paying for their work permits and lodging, he says, which would have "ripple effects" on other expenses.
To manage, he has had to jump in to work in the kitchen, while his elder brother Gareth - who handles finance and administrative matters - has to help with service.
After the Outram outlet closes, Mr Tang will readjust the menu at Greenwood.
It will be streamlined to focus on key dishes and he will also add on dishes that customers in the area have been requesting.
These include his popular pork lard fried rice and new crayfish items - which were initially planned for Outram.
By focusing on one outlet, he hopes to improve business on weekdays and take his team out to participate in guest chef events.
He does not rule out expanding again, but deems it unlikely amid the manpower crunch.
He adds: "There's a difference between closing Swee Kee and Ka-Soh. Swee Kee was part of my childhood memories growing up, but for Ka-Soh, it took 15 years to build up the business.
"A lot of effort was thrown into the business, so it hurts differently."