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Millennial Rosti Hawkers Close Stall After Months Of “Less Than $1,000” Take-Home Pay


The_King
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Much has been said about the future of hawkers in Singapore ⁠— the notoriously tough profession is mainly taken up by the older generations, while youngsters brave enough to give it a shot found themselves struggling. Like mod nasi lemak stall Ah Lemak, which shut down after only five months due to poor business and diners remarking that its $6.50 chicken thigh nasi lemak was “so expensive”.

Another young hawker-run stall that recently closed is Burgrill. The Hong Lim Food Centre stall specialises in house-made Swiss rosti and hearty Western fare like burgers, steaks and chicken chops. It was set up last March by brothers Milton Tan, 36, a Shatec-trained chef, and former finance professional Algin Tan, 31, who ventured into F&B after unfortunately losing his life savings of $40,000 to a cryptocurrency scam in 2020.

 

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Closed after a year

Worn down by months of dismal sales, the brothers decided to wind up their stall in April this year. A pity, since they serve made-from-scratch $8 rosti sets with silky scrambled eggs that’s tastier than pricier versions at cafes.

“The crowds never really came back to our hawker centre. We were each earning less than $1,000 a month for our take-home pay, from when we first opened till now,” Algin tells 8days.sg. “We really couldn’t sustain anymore, so we decided to close.” Milton, who dipped into his savings to open Burgrill with his brother, did not recoup his five-figure investment.

 

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The duo tried their best to live on their slim earnings for a while. “As a hawker it was quite easy for me not to spend money. I work six days a week so I hardly go out, and I eat my own food or my stall neighbours’ food to save money,” Algin shares. Meanwhile, Milton took up a second job as a delivery driver to make ends meet. “I took care of closing for the stall so my brother could go do deliveries,” adds Algin.

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As he’s currently “single and doesn't have many [financial] commitments”, Algin reckons that he could still get by as a full-time hawker. “But my brother is stressed out. He’s getting married and has more expenses coming in. Marriage costs a lot of money when you buy a house and all that,” he says.

There were good months when their stall turned a modest profit, but the brothers ploughed the money back into their business for equipment like a $2,500 potato shredder for their rosti. “And our deep fryer broke down, so we had to replace it,” says Algin. “Oil prices increased, all the ingredient costs increased due to the Russian-Ukrainian war. We wanted to continue the stall, but there was rent and all these costs to consider.”

He admits that he “worries for sure” about his financial security. He points out: “Ultimately I will have more commitments when I grow older. If I’m 40 and still earning $1,000, what’s the point? It’s impossible to [live long-term] on $1,000 a month.”

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“I put in so much effort and got this amount”

Despite hustling six days a week, Algin saw that his hard work wasn’t paying off. “I put in so much effort and got this amount,” he laughs. But what kept him going as a hawker, he says, was his strong interest in cooking and supportive customers. “You must really have the passion to be a hawker,” he shares. “My friends asked me, why not get a corporate job? If I weren’t a hawker I would still work in a restaurant, ’cos I like cooking.”

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Next, Algin and Milton plan to bid for another stall under NEA’s hawker incubation programme as the setup costs are lower, with subsidised rent (they previously paid market rent for their Hong Lim stall).

“If we can get it, good. We will run it together again. If we can’t get it… We haven’t thought further about that yet,” chuckles Algin. “We asked kopitiams about renting a stall, but they quoted us $4,000 to $8,000 [in monthly rent] with a one-year contract and we’re sure they will increase the rent after that.”

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While waiting for his NEA application, Algin is upskilling by working as a cook at an F&B chain (he declines to name it for confidentiality reasons). “I have no [professional F&B] background, so I wanted to learn how a commercial kitchen operates,” he says.

He is currently “learning everything from scratch, like how to slice a fish, cook seafood and fry stuff.” He also signed up for a sous vide class next month as he plans to launch a rosti and sous vide meat menu for his new stall. While he hopes that second time’s the charm for him, Algin is pragmatic: “Maybe if we get the next stall and business is still not good, we may have to stop for good.”

Edited by The_King
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many stall holder forgot what is hawker food.  if you want to sell higher price, open a cafe, rest etc...

 

 

A hawker centre or cooked food centre is an open-air complex commonly found in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore. They were built to provide a more sanitary alternative to mobile hawker carts and contain many stalls that sell different varieties of affordable meals

 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawker_centre

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12 minutes ago, Huat Zai said:

Listen to your government, save our hawker culture, make big money

 

rich-cash.gif

 

8dc79ec57fde24fd1d8473993a29974261fc2afa

i rather ppl start cooking and then let the hawker culture die.

 

 

 

they can cook once per week and enough for 1 week

 

 

 

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Whatever  the price of the food they selling,  the #1 important fact is the food must be very good to compete with the famous stalls established  there already!  Even if its cheaper!  No returning customer! 

 

If nothing fantastic and yet expensive then its a foregone conclusion. 

 

Look at these analogy: 

If every girls watch miss universe or world and feel that "Wow" so nice can be famous and win money + get sponsors!  Then get immediate stardom and their Insta BOOMZ and be influencer and have millions of followers!   Its a dream come through!  All the millionaire Prince  want to date them and throw money at her!  BOOMZ man! 

 

Then our Sinkies bus round 1 kanna rejected then call newspaper complaint!  Say want to make Sg proud because i spend so much money to prepare for contest and now CMI!   

 

Reality strikes! But ........ Still blame others loh!  

 

Its everybody fault!   They got poor taste!  :umchio:

 

Get the picture? :hehe:

 

Same angle! Same story, just different product!  :wink:

Edited by Bigbird
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13 hours ago, XianGe said:

They abit KGK cos Hong lim night time no ppl one... Western food should go for place tat hab regular crowd

 

12 hours ago, The_King said:

they think ah pek love night life

 

who says ah pek no night life de?????

 

Bottoms up! Beer promoter in viral video holds cup to customer's mouth -  The Independent Singapore News

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1 hour ago, Coffee_O said:

they choose wrong locaton lah. hong lim there mostly old people wont eat western lah. they should open in food court in shopping mall, maybe will be better

 

Ya.. they should have chosen another place... Not sure huai they wanted honglim of all places

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12 hours ago, socrates469bc said:

 

 

who says ah pek no night life de?????

 

Bottoms up! Beer promoter in viral video holds cup to customer's mouth -  The Independent Singapore News

 

Wah this one is my idol!

 

Some more the bu is quite Chio!

 

Where is this place, i want to ask for autograph? 

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