Chinatown Food Street closes, business hit badly by lack of customers amid Covid-19 pandemic

Chinatown Food Street switched off its lights for the last time on Oct 22, 2021, with just two stalls left standing.
Chinatown Food Street switched off its lights for the last time on Oct 22, 2021, with just two stalls left standing.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
Closed stores are seen along Chinatown Food Street on Oct 26, 2021.
Closed stores are seen along Chinatown Food Street on Oct 26, 2021.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
A Select Group spokesman said the company could not continue with operations as there was no crowd and the tenants were not paying the rent.
A Select Group spokesman said the company could not continue with operations as there was no crowd and the tenants were not paying the rent.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - Chinatown Food Street has closed for good after 20 years, the latest business victim of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Opened in 2001 as part of the Singapore Tourism Board's (STB) efforts to revitalise Chinatown, it boasted a cluster of popular hawker food carts along a 100m stretch of Smith Street that was closed to vehicular traffic.

Although it drew crowds in the beginning, it lost its sizzle after a few years and was closed in 2013 for a $4 million overhaul, including building a roof to protect diners from inclement weather.

It reopened in early 2014 with 24 stalls and new operator Select Group, which runs the Peach Garden Chinese restaurants and chain of Texas Chicken eateries.

Before it closed, the street featured stalls such as Famous Eunos Bak Chor Mee, King of Fried Rice, Tiong Bahru Meng Kee Roast Duck, Katong Keah Kee Fried Oysters, Siam Square Mookata and Boon Tat BBQ Seafood.

The iconic food street switched off its lights for the last time last Friday (Oct 22) with just two stalls left standing.

A spokesman for Select Group said the company could not continue with operations any longer because there were "no tourists or local crowd" and the tenants were not paying their rent.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, STB director of arts and cultural precincts Lim Shoo Ling said the authority had worked closely with Select Group to put in place various support measures.

These included rental waivers for the hawkers, as well as additional financial support for the food street’s marketing efforts, said Ms Lim.

“We will continue to work closely with the relevant agencies to explore options for the site, and more details will be shared in due course,” she added.