Good conscience the magic ingredient

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 August, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 August, 2005, 12:00am

What does it take to become a successful caterer? Good food is, of course, a must, but to Yim Wun-hing, owner of a popular cha chan teng (cafe) in the Mid-Levels, only an establishment with a good conscience can make customers return.

Wynne's Cafe, in the once quiet Caine Road neighbouring the bustling Soho gourmet-entertainment hub, is typical of the Hong Kong-style fast-food restaurants visited by millions of working people.

'I have been working in the catering industry for many decades and I have learnt one most important thing, which is to serve food with your conscience. When you do that, your food will definitely taste good and the customers will return,' Mr Yim said.

But it is with a heavy heart the 62-year-old will serve his last cups of tea tomorrow at the restaurant he started in 1991. Mr Yim is retiring, and selling the property.

He has decided that Wynne's will say goodbye to its loyal patrons with a 'glorious closure'.

Mr Yim said that unlike some establishments where food was peppered with artificial flavouring and unpleasant fat, he used only the choicest ingredients to provide a more healthy diet to students, housewives and office workers who frequented the restaurant.

Other than serving Hong Kong-style tea, famed for its smoothness and strong taste, and coffee Mr Yim said customers' favourite dishes included the cafe's vegetable borsch, and ox tongue rice and curry.

The restaurant has won three good-hygiene awards. Celebrity patrons have included actresses Helena Law Lan and Nancy Sit Ka-yin, and action star Chin Siu-ho.

Before starting the restaurant, which is also managed by his wife Li Man-ying, Mr Yim had been running two Korean-style restaurants in Kowloon.

He said he enjoyed being a restaurateur so much because it gave him the chance to meet new faces and see old friends every day.

'I like meeting people. It is a blessing to be able to see different people coming and eat here, as I cannot imagine sitting in an office. It's just too boring, while running a restaurant is just wonderful,' he said.

'Although my wife and I have to spend long hours here, we open at 7am and close at 9pm, you get great satisfaction when you see people are happy with their food.'

Despite the catering industry being notorious for bosses who make lightning closures leaving staff unpaid and unemployed, Wynne's half a dozen staff - most have worked there since the restaurant's opening - will move on with full pay packets, severance fees and most importantly, sweet memories in their pockets.

'A restaurant is like a home where the staff are part of the family. We'll all miss each other, as well as the customers,' Mr Yim said.