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By William Isau
SIBU, July 14: Said to be the oldest food court here with its history dating back to the 1940s, Khoo Peng Loong Food Garden has withstood the test of time.
From the heyday of riverine transport to the present time when land transport has become the preferred mode of travel, this food garden which is situated near the express boat wharf remains a popular destination, albeit with fewer customers.
Longtime trader, James Ling, 64, can attest to that.
“My late grandfather was among the first generation of traders as early as in the 1940s. The foodcourt’s old site was near the Tua Pek Kong Temple. It was later relocated to this place which was once called Pulau Babi,” he recalled.
Since Ling was nine-years-old, he used to hang around his grandfather’s drink stall after school.
“That time and until the 2000s, the riverfront here was a busy thoroughfare as riverine transport using express boats and speedboats were the only mean of transport to outstation. People will come to our place for food and drinks when they arrived in town or before they depart,” said James who took over the business from his grandfather some 35 years ago.
Since then he and his wife have been the only sole operators of the stall.
He acknowledged the detrimental effects that better road connectivity has had on riverine transport, and his business as not been spared by its fallout.
“People are now using roads instead of boats to go outstation. Of course, we have less customers now but we still have our regular customers. Outsiders who come here by road will also make a pitstop here for food and drinks. Then there are locals who will kill their time here as this is a ‘lau ti fang’ (old place) for them,” he said.
The food court looks tidier and more orderly after a major renovation some three years ago. There are presently 19 stalls.
“Before the renovation, this place was terrible. Former councillor Wong Hie Ping was the one who initiated the major overhaul of our place,” Ling said, with gratitude.
With age not on his side now, he reckoned that he would pass down his business to his daughter and daughter-in-law.
“They are both local graduates and are working in an audit firm. As they are interested in this line, they will inherit the business in the time to come. Let’s the younger generation takes over,” he said. — DayakDaily