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TALKING POINTS

Know Your Neighbours: Small Businesses Around Taikoo Place

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Once an industrial district, today’s Quarry Bay is a thriving hub of commercial and residential spaces. We speak to five neighbourhood business owners, new and old, on what brought them here, and where they see things going with our beloved community.
Rachel Tam
Ming Ngai Cleaning and Laundry Centre

Shop 18A, G/F, Hoi Kwong Court, 13-15 Hoi Kwong Street, Quarry Bay

“When my father opened this shop 32 years ago, Hoi Kwong Street was just a quiet old street. There were pawn shops, a billiards room, a coffin shop and – you won’t believe it – seven laundromats around this block. We thought there were going to be more residential buildings at the Taikoo Place construction sites, so imagine our surprise when they turned out to be office towers! Fortunately, the new buildings have brought in more traffic for our business, and our customer base has expanded as a result.

My husband and I now run the shop ourselves. Over the years, I’ve grown to love this community, as many of our customers have become our friends (even the American artist Howard McCrary was our customer!). Sometimes they’d say to us, ‘Please don’t retire, otherwise where can I get my clothes washed?’ For me, this is solid proof of the bond and trust we’ve built with them. The shop has become a place where I can connect with people, just as Quarry Bay has become a second home for me.”
Lau Chi-hoi
There is a Snack Bar

Shop 6A, G/F, Ka Wing Building, 4-6 Hoi Wan Street, Quarry Bay

“I used to be a pyrotechnician at Disneyland, but it’d always been my dream to open a cha chaan teng as it represents an important part of Hong Kong culture. Now, you see I own a snack bar, not a cha chaan teng – that’s because I had never run a restaurant, so I decided to take this as a first step two years ago. My experience at Disney has helped me to make this work, though. For instance, I’ve learnt how to save costs and increase profits, how to manage staff, and most importantly, to smile and make customers happy.

Why Quarry Bay? I think I can still feel the Hong Kong spirit here. It’s a very tight community where people are respectful, friendly and kind to each other. In the old Hong Kong, we left our doors open because we trusted our neighbours – it’s similar here as we become friends with our customers and other shop owners. It makes me happy that people can just come and enjoy my food, while chatting with me about anything and everything. This is how Hong Kong should look like. ”
Louis Lo
Golden City Stationery Company

G/F, 6A Hoi Kwong Street, Quarry Bay

“My parents opened our first shop on Tsat Tsz Mui Road over 30 years ago. I was still a kid back then, and had always enjoyed hanging out at the store after school. Later, I’d worked in retail for different companies, where I picked up useful skills to help my parents improve the business. I took over the shop and moved us to our current location 17 years ago.

Running a traditional stationery store isn’t easy – the market has changed drastically due to digitalisation, and so has Quarry Bay, which has been commercialising rapidly. But despite the challenges, I’ve decided to stay for the perfect blend of old and new here. The new developments have injected a vibrant energy into the community, but at the same time you still get that human connection here. For me, the human touch is very important, which is why I’ve kept this physical shop, and still like to handwrite invoices and use this old cash register. Often people will come in just to hang out and chat; I imagine this may not be possible in other fast-paced districts. I wouldn’t know, though, since I’ve never had a shop elsewhere – but I’ve already got all I need and want here.”
Karen Cheung
Farmer’s Cooking

5 Hoi Chak Street, Quarry Bay

“Our story began with a small farm in Sheung Shui. It was just a hobby at first, but as I’d learnt more about farming and local produce, it became my passion to promote seasonal fruits and vegetables. Around six years ago, we took the advice of a friend who works in Taikoo Place, to open a restaurant in Quarry Bay. I knew that there was a gap in the market for home-cooked, vegetarian food here; what I hadn’t expected was how unique and friendly this community is. For example, rather than just coming to eat, pay and leave, many of our customers would stay longer to chat with us. And we like to take care of them: when we know a guest is feeling under the weather, we’ll reserve some fresh ginger for them to take home. The shops around here are also supportive of each other – it doesn’t feel like we’re competitors at all.

Quarry Bay has an interesting landscape. We have modern skyscrapers, but also many old residential buildings; there’s the big shopping mall, and also small, independent stores everywhere. I like that we have a park nearby, and Mount Parker is just steps away when we need some fresh air. As a restaurant we’re all about healthy eating, and working here really resonates with me as it allows me to have a more balanced lifestyle.”
Chiu Chun-kwok
Yau Wan Restaurant

Shop 6, G/F, 981 F King’s Road, Quarry Bay

“I was a cook specialising in siu mei (Cantonese charcuterie) before co-founding this 28-year-old BBQ shop. The reason why we’d chosen Quarry Bay is simple – I’d grown up here. But the area was very different back then: there was neither MTR nor the Eastern Harbour Tunnel; and where Taikoo Place is now used to be factories. I certainly like how things have improved, as the streets have become a lot cleaner and more modern, and our business can reach more people as they come to work here.

For me, Quarry Bay is so special because it feels like its own quaint little town. We have our own community and I think people are very friendly around the neighbourhood. That makes it easy for us to establish relationships with our customers. I’ve known some of them for over 20 years, and many would still come back to buy our char siu (barbecued pork) or chicken even after they’ve moved to other parts of the city! So, even though the area has become more commercial, I think some things never change – our connection with others.”
Interested in knowing what your Taikoo Place neighbours are doing to give back to the community? Read here.
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