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Ah Tai Hainanese Chicken Rice hawker unwilling to hand business over to daughter, hints at likely successor

Ah Tai Hainanese Chicken Rice hawker unwilling to hand business over to daughter, hints at likely successor
PHOTO: Facebook/AhTaiChickenRice

The life of a hawker is a tough one. 

Case in point: The owner of Ah Tai Hainanese Chicken Rice at Maxwell Food Centre, Wong Liang Tai, returned to work sooner than expected after an accident at the stall.

On Dec 19, they announced the temporary closure on Facebook, citing Liang Tai's "minor work injury".

But a mere five days later, the stall was back in business.

According to 8days, Liang Tai scalded his hand "while preparing the sauce for his chicken rice".

Sharing more about the incident with Shin Min Daily News, he stated: "I had just prepared the sauce for the chicken rice and was about to move it somewhere else. But I tripped on something and lost my balance."

The hot liquid splashed onto Liang Tai's left arm as well as his face. Not wanting to waste the ingredients, he carried on with business for the day and only went to see the doctor the next day.

He was given six days of medical leave, but went back to work after five days, reported Shin Min. In reality, Liang Tai mentioned that his injury would take a month to heal. 

But taking such a long break to recover was not an option for Liang Tai. He expressed that the stall will incur high expenses when the stall is closed, not to mention the rent he has to shoulder. 

At 64 years old, one would wonder whether he intends to hand over the torch to a successor. 

According to Shin Min, Liang Tai's only daughter is interested in taking over the stall. 

Currently in her 30s, the university graduate helps to manage the stall’s online presence via social media. 

Despite her interest, Liang Tai is not keen on the idea of her daughter taking over the stall, noting that the job can be physically demanding.

"It’s hard for a girl to chop chickens unless she’s very physically strong," he told 8days, sharing that he works over 10 hours a day.

"Us old folks can take the hardship because we are used to it, but if you ask a youngster to work such long hours, they may not be able to sustain beyond two years," he added. 

He also mentioned the hardships of a hawker, stating that it’s not easy to build a name in the F&B industry. 

"The hawker business is not easy, you must have patience and a good reputation," he told Shin Min.

Fortunately, Liang Tai may already have a successor in mind. 

The person in question is a former customer-turned-apprentice. According to Liang Tai, the person was initially a regular customer and has now been working for him for over 10 years.

The origins of Ah Tai Hainanese Chicken Rice

Ah Tai Hainanese Chicken Rice is located in the same vicinity as another standout chicken stall, Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice. And the rivalry between the two stalls might be as legendary as their chicken rice. 

Liang Tai was the head chef at Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice for over 20 years. But following a falling out with Tian Tian’s owner, he chose to strike it out on his own in 2012, establishing his stall just a stone's throw away from his former employer at Maxwell Food Centre.

Last year, even Apple explored the narrative of this chicken rice feud, presenting a five-minute mini-documentary that spotlighted the intense competition between the two stalls.

ALSO READ: 'We are basically losing money selling vegetables': Hawker who sells yong tau foo at $2.50 for 10 pieces to raise prices

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