Hup Lee economic bee hoon chain founder dies aged 51 after 2-year battle with ALS
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Hup Lee economic bee hoon chain founder dies aged 51 after 2-year battle with ALS

Founder of popular Hup Lee economic bee hoon chain dies at 51

Tan Boon Hai, the founder of the popular economic bee hoon chain Hup Lee, has passed away. He was 51 years old.

His cause of death was heart failure, which came two years after he received his Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) diagnosis.

The hawker-entrepreneur succumbed to his illness on Thursday (2 May).

Mr Tan’s family is now encouraging those with ALS to face the condition with optimism, just like he did.

Set up 90 stores in 10 years

According to Shin Min Daily News, Mr Tan’s journey in the food and beverage (F&B) industry started at his parent’s economic bee hoon stall in Yishun.

Source: Google Maps

His wife, 50-year-old Madam Huang Su Ling (name transliterated from Mandarin) told Shin Min at his wake in Choa Chu Kang that Mr Tan and his older brother would help out at their parents’ stall since young.

While he was in National Service (NS) at 18 years old — equipped with just a secondary school education and skills in making fried bee hoon — Mr Tan set his mind on starting his own business.

Upon completing NS, he opened his first outlet in Woodlands.

Source: Google Maps

In subsequent years, Mr Tan opened three more stores in various locations, and even a factory to make chilli sauce and marinades to distribute to the different outlets.

Once he was sure the quantity of his products was sufficient, Mr Tan expanded his businesses by inviting family and friends onboard.

In the early 2000s, Hup Lee’s rapid growth peaked, with 90 stores launched in a decade.

After the Covid-19 pandemic and receiving his vaccines, Mr Tan threw himself back into work, Ms Huang said.

Hup Lee founder diagnosed with ALS in 2022

However, life threw Mr Tan a curveball in February 2022, when he discovered a weakness in his left hand.

After consulting six doctors, he eventually received his diagnosis of ALS.

Ms Huang highlighted that Mr Tan placed much importance on health when he was alive, as he had the habit of running daily and moderating his diet.

Hup Lee founder

Source: Shin Min Daily News on Facebook

Therefore, the diagnosis came as a surprise.

She added that the doctors told them that ALS has no cure, and he could only control the symptoms with medication.

Even though he was coping well, Ms Huang said Mr Tan started losing his appetite due to a cough.

He reportedly did not eat anything for about five days before his passing.

Ms Huang managed to convince Mr Tan to go to the hospital for a check-up, but his heart started failing when he was making his way there.

Doctors operated on Mr Tan and managed to recover his heartbeat, but his blood pressure remained low, and he ultimately did not make it.

In light of the experience, Ms Huang urges other patients with ALS to not be overly afraid and stresses the importance of remaining optimistic when battling the illness.

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Featured image adapted from Shin Min Daily News on Facebook and Google Maps. 

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