Lee Chung-hing, a congee shop owner who gives free meals to the elderly, may have to stop his charitable work as labor shortage and rising rent are forcing him to close the business, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported on Friday.
Lee has just reopened his 28-year-old store in Ho Man Tin after suspending its operation in July 13 because of lack of workers. He has lost about half of his staff since the start of the year, prompting him to cut business hours by half to 12 hours.
Lee, who was featured in a government television commercial for the Bless Hong Kong campaign, has been giving out free congee to senior people every Sunday since the 2008 financial crisis.
As part of his charitable work in the neighborhood, he is selling all items on the menu, including congee, rice paper rolls and fried noodles, for HK$5 (65 US cents) per serving just for today.
Although business remains hard, Lee says he is committed to pursue his charity work.
Aside from finding it hard to look for workers, Lee is also struggling to cope with the rising rent. The Link Real Estate Investment Trust (00823.HK), the landlord, is raising the rent for his store by up to HK$4,000 from October. He is already paying about HK$50,000 a month for the small shop.
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