After 66 years, the famous Air Itam Market Laksa in Penang has finally ceased its operation due to discouraging business and rising debt amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to Malay Mail, 72-year-old owner of the laksa stall, Ang Kak Seong shared on Facebook that the pandemic and MCO has had a negative impact on his business.
“[May 18] will be the last day of business … Thanks for supporting for so many years,” he wrote on Penang Air Itam Laksa’s Facebook page.
Another factor that led to Ang’s decision to close down his business was constant harassment from debt collectors that were looking for money his estranged 47-year-old son, Ang Kat Foo owed them, which his father now has to pay since he went missing.
“I have been forced to pay off my son’s loans again and again,” he said.
The family had suffered many losses due to his son’s endless debts which resulted in him being disowned by Ang’s family.
Air Itam Assemblyman, Joseph Ng said in a statement that Ang had asked for his help regarding the harassment from the debt collectors.
“Ang was unable to repay the debt for his son so the whole family, including his wife and daughters, have decided to break family ties with his eldest son,” Ng said.
Ang also took an opportunity to thank his loyal customers who have supported him over the decades and the media for the exposure of his small booth to the point where it was featured on CNN’s World’s Best Food list.
Famous chef, Anthony Bourdain also visited Ang’s laksa stall in an episode of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. Watch a clip of the episode here:
“Ang also thanked the media for their coverage of his business and exposure over the years, which allowed his small booth to be internationally featured.
“Temporarily quitting is a compelling and painful decision, but Ang hopes that everyone can understand his pain and suffering,” Ng said.
Like many traders who are suffering due to the MCO’s impact, Ng said that he hopes that Ang will reconsider his decision to close the stall and perhaps open up again when things get better.