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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Historic building to be city's catalyst

GEORGE TOWN: A newly-restored building in the centre of the city is going to be used as a catalyst to infuse new life and activity after dark into George Town.

Food People Sdn Bhd which has just inked a six-year lease to manage and operate the historic Loke Thye Kee Restaurant building at the key junction of Jalan Penang and Jalan Burmah, wants to restore the building's former iconic status and leverage on its heritage attributes to draw quality tenants to the three-storey building.

The company's two shareholders - DRB-HICOM's chairman Datuk Syed Mohamad Aidid Syed Mustaza and businessman Ong Ban Seang - are keen to promote events and activities which will draw its patrons, especially the young, into the city.

"We are in the process of identifying potential tenants who will help us make this area a must-stop destination for all good food synonymous with Penang," Food People's managing director Ong told Business Times.

"We hope to house a 24-hour food outlet and perhaps a retail outlet on the ground floor, a restaurant on the first floor and the top level which also serves as a roof-garden can become an exclusive lounge or be available for private functions." Ong added.

He said the restaurant is most likely to offer Malay or Hainanese cuisine which can be enjoyed by all Malaysians.

The Loke Thye Kee building which is ship-shaped, was originally owned and built in 1929 by one of Penang's influential community leaders at the time, Khoo Sian Ewe.

Loke Thye Kee which means "House of Happiness" in Hokkien Chinese, once housed a restaurant serving Hainanese food for almost 70 years until 1996, and was considered a premium venue for birthdays and weddings.

The building also served as the preferred site for matchmakers who would bring potential brides and grooms for their first meeting.

Of the RM2 million spent by the building's owners to restore the building, some RM130,000 came from Khazanah Nasional Bhd's subsidiary Think City Sdn Bhd.

Think City operates a public grants fund - the George Town Grants Programme - which is utilized for civil society and the private sector to engage on capacity building and capability development for the protection and development of living heritage, culture and architecture, and to provide support for the regeneration of the area.

By Business Times

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