Fears grow for herbal tea shop’s neon sign after business closes

Photo via Neon Heritage on Facebook.
Photo via Neon Heritage on Facebook.

A herbal tea shop that has occupied the same spot on Yau Ma Tei’s Temple Street for more than 60 years has closed its doors, and fears are mounting for the store’s iconic neon sign.

Owned by four generations of the same family, Chun Wo Tong Dan Yan Lo Herbal Tea, (which translates to “Single-eyed Dude” Herbal Tea), erected its famous neon sign shortly after it opened in the 1950s.

Although the shop’s original neon sign was taken down due to the Buildings Department’s safety regulations, it was replaced by a new neon sign shortly afterwards.

According to Hong Kong Neon Heritage, the shop’s owner Mr Lee said he had chosen to stick with neon, rather than switch to LED, which are now more common.

“Some did question our choice and LED could have been picked but neon radiates a sense of familiarity. The old neon sign was already in our lives when we were growing up. I’m almost 50 now so we have been very attached to neon. To our family, there was no other option.”

ONE AT A TIMEThis Century-old brand ‘Chun Wo Tong Dan Yan Lo (Single-eyed Dude) Herbal Tea 春和堂單眼佬涼茶 saw the last day…

Posted by The Hong Kong Neon Heritage – 香港霓虹承光 on Friday, June 15, 2018

On.cc reported last month, that the herbal tea shop was sold in April for more than HK$30 million (US$3.82 million.)

According to the news outlet, Lee said the herbal tea shop is not closing down for good and he is looking to relocate the business somewhere else within the Yau Ma Tei neighborhood, although a new location has not been confirmed yet.

However, according to Hong Kong Neon Heritage — an organization that is trying to preserve the city’s neon signs amid the government’s so-called war on neon — fears the shop’s neon sign, which is still quite new and well-maintained, is likely to be removed.

Hong Kong Neon Heritage has not yet responded to Coconuts HK’s requests for comment, and it is not clear if anyone has volunteered to take in the sign.

Streetsign HK, another group dedicated to preserving the city’s streetsigns and signboards, also confirmed to Coconuts HK that they have attempted to reach out to the owners of the herbal tea shop.

Hong Kong’s neon signs have long been a defining characteristic of the city’s streetscapes though have continued to disappear in recent years as a result of a government cull of structures which they deem to be illegal or unsafe for jutting out of buildings and onto streets.

One of the most famous neon signs to be taken down in recent years is the cow-shaped neon sign for Sammy’s Kitchen on Queen’s Road West, which was taken down in 2015. After it was taken down, the sign was reportedly moved to the West Kowloon Cultural District’s M+ Museum.

In January, famous noodle shop Mak Man Kee was forced to take down its iconic neon sign because of the government’s building regulations, and the noodle shop’s owners told Coconuts HK that the sign is still in storage.

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