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Cleaners overwhelmed by Lau Pa Sat lunch crowd

CROCKERY EVERYWHERE: Containers filled to the brim with dirty dishes during the lunch period at Lau Pa Sat. The food centre, which was closed for a revamp last September, reopened on Monday.


    Jul 04, 2014

    Cleaners overwhelmed by Lau Pa Sat lunch crowd

    THE $4 million renovations have been completed, and the crowds have returned - in bigger numbers. But the huge turnout at the newly reopened Lau Pa Sat, especially during lunch hours, has resulted in a big mess on many of the tables.

    Trays of leftover food and crockery were seen on the tables - between noon and 2pm - on the two days following Monday's reopening, when The New Paper (TNP) visited.

    Cleaners appeared overwhelmed as they pushed their fully loaded carts, navigating the crowds on their way to the waste bins.

    Liza Ling, 30, and her friend, Ding Yi, 28, were among the office crowd on Tuesday.

    Ms Ling said she had "reserved" a table with packets of tissue paper.

    When she returned 20 minutes later with her food, the table was still stacked with more than eight trays of leftovers.

    "I went to find a cleaner, but he said that my table was outside of his designated area. My friend and I resorted to returning the trays to the cleaner," she said. They made three trips each to clear their table.

    According to Kopitiam, which operates Lau Pa Sat, about 20,000 diners visited the popular food centre on Monday. On Tuesday, the number rose to 22,000.

    The food centre closed for a revamp last September. An additional 460 seats were built - bringing the total to 2,500 - while the number of stalls was reduced from 90 to 54.

    Leith Tan, who works in Cecil Street, was there on Wednesday.

    "The tray clearance is slow," she said, pointing to four trays of leftovers beside her and two more on the floor.

    "The cleaning will get better with time but, for the time being, I won't be coming back to Lau Pa Sat," said Ms Tan, who is in her 30s.

    TNP also observed Steve Lo, 34, clearing a table of trays left behind by other diners.

    He said: "I think the cleaners' (section) is understaffed. I couldn't find a tray return station or a cleaner. I wouldn't mind clearing the table as long as there are tray return stations."

    A Japanese tourist, who wanted to be known only as Mr Taku, 30, said: "There are similar food courts in Japan, but I've never seen one so crowded. This place is too crowded and I don't plan on coming back."

    Madam Liu, director of Cindy Cleaning Solution, which manages the cleaners at Lau Pa Sat, told TNP there were more than 30 cleaners for the lunch-hour shift.

    The 51-year-old, who declined to give her full name, said in Mandarin: "Because Lau Pa Sat has just opened, some of the cleaners - especially the older ones - are not familiar with their work area yet, so they might be slower or miss out on some tables.

    "The number of cleaners is enough for a food centre of this size. But it opened to really good business, and we didn't expect so many diners, so we are finding it hard to manage.

    "It will get better as the cleaners get familiar with the place."