Iconic Katong eatery Glory Catering closing on Saturday
But product manufacturing, catering service will continue
He was 16 when he started working in his family's restaurant, making and serving tea.
Nearly six decades later, Mr Chin Der Ann, 73, the second-generation owner of Glory Catering, is set to call time on the restaurant.
Famous for its Nonya dishes, popiah and kueh, the restaurant at 139 East Coast Road will serve customers for the last time on Saturday.
Speaking to The New Paper yesterday, Mr Chin said: "I am sad, and the main reason is manpower. Our staff are getting old and want to retire. It is not easy to get new workers as well."
Mr Chin has three siblings.
He has an older sister, who is 74, and two younger brothers aged 71 and 69. They, along with their spouses, run the business.
Between them, they have 11 children, and Mr Chin still hopes the third generation of the family will take over the business.
They have not said no and Mr Chin said: "It is not just to make the family proud, but for Singapore as well. There is a lot of Nonya food here you can't get anywhere else."
While the restaurant will close, Glory's catering services and product manufacturing - of sauces such as kaya and sambal - will continue to operate.
The history of the restaurant started with a provision shop at 107 East Coast Road, opened by Mr Chin's parents in the 1940s.
In 1956, they opened Shanghai Restaurant, serving Chinese food. The food was not popular with the Peranakan and Malay communities, so four years later, they decided to serve Peranakan nasi padang and Nonya kueh. It was a master stroke, and in the 1980s, Glory Catering was born to complement the restaurant.The product arm, Glory Food, started in 1978.
Mr Teh Weng Soon, 56, has been working at the restaurant since the 1980s.
Regulars say he makes the best popiah, and Mr Teh told TNP yesterday: "We are the only place that still uses bamboo and egg-based skin to make Nonya popiah. We cook the bamboo shoots first, with spices and prawn stock. Not many places use bamboo as it is expensive."
Mr Teh will return to Malaysia to work on his mother's farm when the restaurant closes. Some of the other employees will move to Glory's factory.
When TNP visited the 40-seat restaurant at lunchtime yesterday, it was packed.
Long-time customer, Mr James Wong, 71, said: "It is iconic in Katong. I think traditional food in Singapore must be preserved. We need this kind of authentic food and family restaurants around."
Mr Chin paid tribute to his parents for the success.
He said: "Most of the recipes came from my mother, who was actually Hokkien. It was not easy for my father and mother to build the business, so of course, it is hard for us to give it up."