Having good food is one thing, but having good food and a good ambience will always take things up a notch.
But it seems like that hasn’t been the case for stallholders and patrons of the newly-renovated ABC Brickworks Food Centre located at Bukit Merah.
After the renovations in June 2020, LED lights were installed in the food centre as they can conserve more energy.
However, this decision has apparently caused the food centre to become too dim for some patrons to enjoy their meals properly, and it has also affected some stallholders’ businesses.
And the last time I checked, dimmed lights during mealtimes are probably only useful if you’re having a romantic candlelit dinner, which I doubt most patrons will have at a hawker centre.
Here’s what the relevant parties have to say.
Out of the 96 stalls in the food centre, those whose stallholders spoke to Lianhe Zaobao shared that the new LED lights are insufficient to light up the food centre.
Deng Yiwan (Hanyu pinyin), who operates the dessert stall, revealed that many diners and stallholders alike have expressed their opinions regarding the insufficient lighting in the food centre and that it affects the patrons’ dining experience.
According to him, the lack of sufficient lighting has also resulted in a decrease in patrons who dine at the food centre, and some stallholders have even claimed that business at their stalls have dropped by 30%.
Huang Jinfeng (Hanyu pinyin), another stallholder who operates the rojak stall, also pointed out that many stalls facing the outside of the food centre close their stalls starting from 8 pm onwards.
This has caused the food centre to appear even darker to potential diners, and some patrons even thought that all the stalls had closed for the day after seeing the food centre’s dark exterior.
Ms Huang then suggested that the relevant authorities either set up signs that indicate the food centre’s operating hours or change the lighting in the food centre to make it look brighter from the outside.
On the other hand, the patrons of the food centre had differing opinions on whether the lights affect businesses.
One patron named Lin Wenyong (Hanyu pinyin) told Zaobao reporters that he tends to gravitate towards seats that are well-lit in hawker centres to see his food clearly.
Raj, a medical consultant from Melbourne, Australia, echoed similar sentiments.
As compared to his last visit seven years ago, before the food centre was renovated, he noted that the dim lighting affected the presentation of his food and, therefore, his appetite.
However, Hong Dianlai (Hanyu pinyin), a regular patron of the food centre, offered a different opinion.
According to him, patrons will still be willing to queue up and buy food from stalls that sell good food regardless of the amount of lighting in the food centre. Hence, he believes that the bad business might not be related to the dark atmosphere of the food centre.
Town Council and ABC Brickwork’s Response
Lim Kim Hock, the chairman of ABC Brickworks Hawker’s Association, revealed that the association has repeatedly conveyed feedback regarding the food centre’s lights to the town council.
According to him, the town council did change some of the lights in the food centre to brighter ones, but they are still insufficient.
He added that they informed the town council again due to the recent increase in complaints regarding the food centre being too dark.
The town council has also agreed to change the lights as soon as possible.
The Tanjong Pagar Town Council replied to Zaobao by confirming that they have received feedback regarding the insufficient lighting at the food centre.
They added that the town council is currently discussing the issue with the association.
Eric Chua, the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Tanjong Pagar Group Representation Constituency (GRC), recalled receiving two complaints regarding the dim lighting at ABC Brickworks Food Centre over the past two years.
He then revealed that the relevant parties are currently considering changing the 27-Watt lightbulbs to 40-Watt ones to raise the brightness of the food centre.
According to him, the changing of lightbulbs in the food centre will take place over the next few months.
Another Hawker Centre in Tanjong Pagar Area Has Issues With Water Dripping Through Ceiling
On the other hand, stallholders from other hawker centres managed by the Tanjong Pagar Town Council, such as the Redhill Food Centre and the Alexandra Village Hawker Centre, said those hawker centres do not have issues with the lack of lighting.
A stallholder from Redhill Food Centre agreed that stallholders’ businesses will indeed be affected if a hawker centre has dim lighting. Additionally, he expressed his hopes that the relevant authorities will ensure that hawker centres will have bright enough lighting when they carry out renovation works.
As for Alexandra Village Hawker Centre, a stallholder revealed that while the hawker centre does not have problems with its lighting, but has issues with rainwater instead.
According to him, rainwater will seep through the ventilation holes in the rooftop when it rains, affecting patrons’ meals.
The stallholder shared that the hawker centre may be undergoing upgrading next year and hoped that the authorities will not only ensure that the hawker centre has sufficient lighting but will also consider making adjustments to its rooftop’s design.
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