If you have worked in Central but do not know the “snake pit”, you can consider yourself a bit out of depth in relation to the social scene there.
For more than six decades, the Lok Heung Yuen Coffee Shop in Gilman’s Bazaar has been a popular hangout for office-goers in the area looking for a break from work.
Back in the days when there was no Starbucks, the shop became a bustling social hub, jam-packed in the afternoons with people flocking for the cheap eats and much else.
The ‘snake pit’ moniker, in case you are curious, comes from the Cantonese slang for a venue where you slack off from work.
If you wanted an afternoon coffee, or just felt you were in no mood for work, Lok Heung Yuen was the place to go and spend your time.
The shop had only a few tables and could seat no more than a dozen or so people at a time, yet that didn’t deter the patrons.
But now, all those good things will come to an end as the famed eatery is preparing to close its doors, becoming the latest casualty of the ever-rising property rental costs in the city.
Lok Heung Yuen Coffee Shop will pull its shutters down on Monday, March 18, bringing a glorious chapter to a close in the restaurant scene in Central.
The owner Kong Kit-fong, who took up the operation from the 95-year-old founder who passed away early this year, decided to call it quits after the expiry of a two-year lease.
The closure marks a grim reminder that even a small shop that diligently served its customers for over 60 years cannot fight the escalating rentals in the world’s most expensive business district.
On Thursday, more than 100 people lined up outside the store around noon time to pay tribute to the restaurant they called “old friend”.
One regular customer said: “Forget the food chains that produce standardized food. At Lok Heung Yuen, chefs have been providing excellent food choice for so many years.”
Among the favorite dishes of many long-standing customers is egg with BBQ rice. Not to mention the signature coffee that is arguably better than that served at any franchised coffee chain we know.
In its closing notice, the shop had some endearing words for its loyal customers.
“I will miss the time we were together chatting the usual things, and I will remember your warm smiling faces,” it said.
Well, thank you, Lok Heung Yuen! You – and your Egg BBQ Rice – will be remembered forever. Thank you even more for letting us know that it is okay to take small breaks when we find ourselves stressed out at work.
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