EMPORIUM Makan, a well-loved food court along Jalan Pasar in Klang, will soon be demolished to make way for a light rail transit phase 3 line station.
It is slated to be shut down on June 30 and some 70 hawkers operating there have been given until July 9 to clear out.
For decades, the food court has offered simple, comfort food and is frequented by both Malaysians and tourists alike.
GH How, 63, who sells toast bread, butter coffee and half-boiled eggs, says he plans to retire when the food court closes for good.
Opened in mid-1969, the oldest food court in Klang has been serving up a range of hawker fare, from wantan mee, chicken rice and mee jawa to lontong, satay and bubur cha cha.
There is even a following for the butter coffee and toast bread with half-boiled eggs here.
According to one trader, the rent was RM45 for a stall lot in 1970 but now it is RM200, while several of the more prominent lots in front are RM250.
On hearing the news that the hawker centre would close for good, Klang foodies, both young and old, made a beeline for the stalls to enjoy their favourite hawker fare while they still could.
Even though it was particularly crowded over the weekend, people waited patiently for their food as the orders quickly piled up.
Ninita hopes MPK will allow the hawkers to trade at Jalan Gudang Nanas 3.
The savvier hawkers, however, made sure enough workers were on hand to cope with the anticipated increase in the number of customers, shortening the waiting time.
The older folk reminisced about the past, when the first floor of the double-storey building housed Gama supermarket in the 1980s.
The building was a bustling centre of activity as many also spent time shopping for daily goods back then.
Now, the first floor is vacant and in a dilapidated condition.
Senior citizen Loke Son Hah, 74, who was among the visitors at the hawker centre, said Emporium Makan was his favourite place to have breakfast.
Some of the traders in Emporium Makan have moved out.
“It has been 50 years and this place holds a lot of memories for a lot of people,” he said as he enjoyed the toast bread with butter coffee.
“Before the Internet became widely available, people used to come here for breakfast, lunch or dinner and pick up news on what is happening in the town and even get foreign news.
“Yes, it was a place for good hawker fare and some shopping at Gama,” added Loke.
Student Tee Khai Shuen, 15, said she had enjoyed eating the wantan mee at Emporium Makan since she was in primary school.
“I also enjoy the rojak buah and bubur cha cha here,” said Khai Shuen, who came with her father, Tee Kok Kiong, 42, and grandmother, Gan Yoke Hwa, 61, specifically for the noodle dish.
Khai Shuen loves the rojak buah and bubur cha cha at the food court.
Norman Raj, 34, who was having lunch at the food court with his wife S. Puganeswary and two-year-old son Karthiyean Raj, was sad that the food court would be torn down.
“Customers have an assortment of hawker fare to choose from when they come here, and the price is reasonable,” he said.
Wantan mee stall owner Steven Yap, 67, who operates the stall with his wife, Low Kwai Lan, 59, said he started working at the stall with his mother in 1970.
“We understand that new development needs to take place but we are hoping that Klang Municipal Council (MPK) will allow us traders to relocate our business to the riverside area in Jalan Gudang Nanas 3.
Yap says hawkers want to continue their business at the riverside area in Jalan Gudang Nanas 3.
“Most of the hawkers who have not found a new place hope MPK will agree to the move to Jalan Gudang Nanas 3, as our customers are familiar with the area,” he added.
Trader Chew Yew Ban, 49, who sells rojak buah and bubur cha cha, said MPK must make an effort to relocate the hawkers to Jalan Gudang Nanas 3, which was close to their current location.
“Most stalls are a favourite among locals and tourists and it would augur well for Klang to have a one-stop hawker centre.
“We hope Tourism Selangor will advise the local council to have a hawker centre along the riverside,” he added.
Chew said foreign tourists in search of local hawker fare would come to Emporium Makan as they were interested in discovering where locals eat.
Nainita Nawasir, 61, who runs Rozi Nasi Ayam, said MPK had suggested that the hawkers move to one of three alternative sites –- Meru market, MPK Plaza and Pandamaran market –- but the traders found all of the sites unsuitable.
Loke says Emporium Makan has always been his favourite place to have breakfast.
“We hope MPK will allow us to trade at our preferred location, which is Jalan Gudang Nanas 3.
“MPK can build a simple row of stall lots for traders to continue business in the area,” she added.
In the meantime, some hawkers have moved out of the food court after finding another place to trade, while a handful have shut down their businesses.