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Iconic Singapore restaurant chain-bound

An iconic Singapore eatery has been sold by its family founders to a corporate investor, which promises significant expansion.

Kay Lee Roast Meat Joint was founded by Madam Betty Kong, 68, and her husband Ha Wai Kay, 64, who have traded on the Upper Paya Lebar Rd site for 32 years. It serves meats prepared using Guangzhou-style recipes that Ha’s father developed in the 1950s.

New owner Aztech, a listed Singaporean investment vehicle with interests as diverse as marine logistics and LED Lighting, paid S$4 million for the business which they plan to expand into a chain of at least 11 restaurants by opening in shopping malls. The first new outlet will open early next year.

Aztech senior VP and marketing chief Jeremy Mun told the Straits Times newspaper the acquisition was about more than an investment. Both he and his father  Michael have been customers of Kay Lee for many years.

“It’s not about making money, it’s about preserving a heritage brand because a lot of good food has disappeared. So we want to extend the life of Kay Lee and also expand the business.”

The restaurant’s founders will continue to work in the business for an unspecified length of time after the sale is settled next month to help ensure a smooth transition from single site into a restaurant chain.

The move marks Aztech’s first expansion into the restaurant industry.

(Photo credit: Foody Two Shoes).

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