Poh Kee Chicken Rice Stall’s Rental Increases By S$2,000, S$3.50 Plate Will Be Discontinued
If that wasn’t enough, some hawkers have to deal with rising prices of other things as well, like rental.
One stall that has to contend with both issues is Poh Kee Chicken Rice in Toa Payoh, whose rental has increased by S$2,000.
Despite these problems, the owner has promised to maintain the quality of his food.
Chicken rice stall’s rental goes up to S$7K
The rental increase was first shared by Poh Kee Chicken Rice in a pensive Facebook post on 31 May.
A curious netizen asked the stall to specify exactly how much the increase was, to which they confirmed that their landlord quoted a rental of S$7,000, up from S$5,000.
The increase of S$2,000 represents some workers’ entire monthly salary.
Speaking to MS News, stall owner Michael Poh said all the stalls in the coffee shop had been asked to pay higher rental, not just his stall.
Owner given a few days to decide
In another Facebook post on Wednesday (1 Jun), Poh Kee Chicken Rice explained that they’d been given just a few days to decide whether they wanted to take up the increased lease or move out.
However, after explaining to the landlord that this comes at an awkward time, considering the chicken supply issues, they agreed that they’ll “try to work out” something.
As of now, Mr Poh hasn’t decided whether he should renew his contract, he told MS News.
He confirmed that if he renews, the increased rental would start from 1 Aug.
The chicken rice boss hopes to be able to stay at the stall, which is located in a coffee shop in Block 206, Toa Payoh North.
However, he’s resigned that “if the worse (sic) happens, it will happen”.
S$3.50 small portion discontinued
To cover costs, Mr Poh has decided to discontinue selling his smallest portion of chicken rice, which goes for S$3.50.
He’ll be selling just the medium and large portions at S$4.50 and S$5.50 respectively.
Nevertheless, he’s also considered the needy, asking those who have trouble paying to let them know, adding,
We r sure we can work something out.
He explained to MS News that if customers approach them requesting a small portion, for example for kids or the elderly, he’ll still sell it to them.
He also promised that his chicken rice won’t go down in quality or quantity despite all that’s happened.
Must see whether customers are accepting
Now that he’s mostly done away with the cheapest portion, Mr Poh is waiting to see if the majority of his customers are accepting of this change, Mr Poh told MS News.
He also has to work out whether he can earn enough to cover the additional S$2,000 in rental costs.
Only if his calculations work out can he renew his contract at the higher rental.
‘No choice’ but to increase prices
As for the rising chicken prices, Mr Poh said candidly in another Facebook post that he has “no choice” but to increase his prices too.
He also explained why other bigger chicken rice outlets haven’t increased their prices yet: His stall, being smaller, orders less chicken from suppliers.
Thus, his terms are less negotiable.
Also, he claims he gives customers more chicken to make up for the increase in price.
Chicken rice stall switches to wanton mee
One way that Mr Poh will stay in business after fresh chicken supplies run out is by switching to selling wanton mee instead.
He’d previously stopped selling the dish eight years ago, he posted on Facebook.
Sticking to his principles, he would rather resort to changing his menu and earning less rather than using frozen chicken, which makes chicken rice taste different.
On Thursday (2 Jun), he duly started selling wanton mee, as well as roasted meat rice, after his fresh chicken supplies ran out.
Happily, the launch was a success, with his wanton mee selling out by 5pm.
He thanked patrons for their support.
Owner previously upgraded healthcare workers’ meals
Mr Poh has previously shown that he has a kind heart.
During the ‘Circuit Breaker’ in 2020, a customer made a bulk order of chicken rice to donate to healthcare workers.
In support, Mr Poh promised to add a braised egg for every bento box purchased.
Soon, other Singaporeans also chipped in to bear part of the costs.
Chicken rice stall’s rental woes are troubling
Since Mr Poh has helped people out before, it’s extra sad that he’s being besieged by rental woes on top of chicken supply woes.
He’s not the only hawker facing such problems — some other Toa Payoh stallholders have left their locations due to rental increases.
Hopefully, the chicken supply issues are resolved quickly so that the livelihoods of our hawkers aren’t threatened.
As the cost of living escalates, do support your local hawkers if you can afford to.
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