Opening 90 stores in 10 years, owner of Hup Lee Fried Bee Hoon passes on at 51

The owner of the renowned Hup Lee Fried Bee Hoon hawker chain, 51-year-old Mr Tan Boon Hai, passed away on 2 May.

Famed for opening 90 stores islandwide in 10 years, the entrepreneurial Mr Tan was opening at least 3 to 4 stores every month in the early 2000s. Unfortunately, his growing bee hoon empire was cut short by a diagnosis of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) in 2022.

Hup Lee Fried Bee Hoon - Storefront

Also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, ALS is characterised by the progressive degeneration of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. It starts with weak limbs or twitching muscles and escalates to difficulty moving, swallowing, and even breathing.

This condition has no cure.

Although he was gradually improving with medication, Mr Tan started to cough and lose his appetite 5 days before his passing. While he was briefly revived after medically administered CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), his blood pressure continued to remain low, and his heart tragically failed.

According to a Facebook group Death Kopitiam Singapore, the late owner was a compassionate soul and a “loving husband, son, uncle, brother and friend” to his loved ones.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, he not only volunteered to deliver meals to frontline workers but also made a generous donation to a hospital. Another example — Mr Tan financially supported and visited a disabled stranger-turned-friend monthly.

In remembrance of Mr Tan, let’s take a walk down memory lane as we look back on how he played an integral part in the Hup Lee Fried Bee Hoon legacy.

Hup Lee Fried Bee Hoon - Tan Boon Hai

Despite only having a secondary school education, Mr Tan was filled with ambition and often thought about how he could take his parents’ business to greater heights.

After perfecting his culinary skills by assisting his mother at the original Hup Lee store, he established his first Hup Lee Fried Bee Hoon stall in Woodlands with the money he earned while working at the family-run hawker business.

Now, the hawker chain is regarded as one of the “best fried bee hoon in Singapore.

Hup Lee Fried Bee Hoon - Bee Hoon

While some may wonder what lies in store for the future of Hup Lee Fried Bee Hoon, we would like to send our heartfelt condolences to Mr Tan’s loved ones, and hope that they will find solace in grief. 

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