Born and bred in Sha Tin, Cheung Man-keung, better known as B Gor, is a proud local man who regularly organises community events from bowling competitions to beach clean-ups. But B Gor’s most significant contribution to his neighbourhood? Serving free noodles every month without fail to the elderly. We chat to the owner of Sha Tin's Shing Kee Noodles and good samaritan on how he started his monthly ‘Eldery Happiness Day’.
Hi B Gor! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and the community of Sha Tin?
I grew up in Sha Tin, I studied in Sha Tin, I work in Sha Tin. Sha Tin is my root. I have a lot of plans for the neighbourhood. Right now, I'm organising a bowling competition and I plan to do a beach cleanup at Pak Nai with the primary school kids, where they can also get to experience the best sunset of Hong Kong. I also want to educate and expose teenagers to nature. What's more, we also offer free haircuts. We have about 20 volunteers on the team providing free haircuts to the elderly every two months.
Tell us about the history of Shing Kee and how it's changed over the years.
Shing Kee has been a family business since it was opened in 1956. The restaurant was passed down to my father and now to me. Back when it opened, Sha Tin was only a small, tranquil village with 20,000 residents. Now, Sha Tin is buzzing with 700,000 people. Shing Kee persevered through all the changes and to survive we had adapt with the times. We are a traditional, small shop, but we are diversifying. Not only do we serve noodles, we also do hot pot. One-trick ponies are not good enough. We have to be more competitive. But ultimately, we are a place of people and we treasure our staff. Without them, none of the events would work. We are here to serve the people of Sha Tin.
What inspired to start your ‘Eldery Happiness Day’ and to give out free noodles to the community?
In 2009, we were very close to shutting down. That was when I realised the importance of interacting and serving the community around me. At the age of 55, reputation and money don't make me happy, sharing and the memories of sharing make me happy. There is so much in us to give and our gifts are unlimited. That's when I decided to give out free noodles. Besides noodles, we also give out gift boxes that come with toothbrushes, toothpaste and fruits. Gifts don't always have to be expensive, but they must be practical.
On average, how much do you spend a month on ‘Eldery Happiness Day’?
I haven’t calculated exactly how much, but I would say more than five digits. We do not limit how many people we serve. We once served a record number of 500 elderly within a day but on average, we serve around 300 elderly every month.
You’ve organised ‘Eldery Happiness Day’ for a long time. What keeps you going?
Yes, we've been doing this for more than 10 years. At the beginning, we limited it to 100 elderly but with the growth of the business, we are able to support and provide for more people. Since lifting the limit, we can't go back on it. Integrity is important for me. I promised to serve as many bowls of noodles needed and I will stand by that promise.
Some of the restaurant owners have done similar things, but they quickly got shut down. What do you think you're doing differently?
Duty is incredibly important to me. You have to maintain a high quality of food and a good attitude. You have to make sure rent is paid and that staff are happy. Giving out free food comes with its pressures, but the important thing is having all these factors balanced.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I hope to continue to serve Sha Tin with my friends. And I hope to see Sha Tin thrive as a more peaceful and loving community.
Shing Kee Noodles, Shop 5, Lek Yuen Estate Market, Sha Tin, 2692 6611.