I wish to share with you a story of one of our clients, Jeffrey Kwok and his father, who are both philanthropists from Hong Kong.
Jeffrey’s father ran a chain of “Mahjong Schools”(a.k.a. Mahjong parlors) in Hong Kong and his flagship outlet is situated on the ground floor of a sixty years old building called the Alhambra Building (平安大樓) in Kowloon, Yau Ma Tei, near Temple Street. The Kwok’s family also owns other units within the same building.
For those of you who are not familiar with Hong Kong, Temple Street was, and still is, one of the cities red-light districts mainly visited by aged local men and currently, Temple Street is now dazzling with tourism.
Running Mahjong school is a tough and hardening business, because they are essential bookmakers.
Jeffrey is in the advertising industry and he was the founder of a local advertising company, PMM Media, which promotes social enterprises. Perhaps it was through his media network that Jeffrey had learned the difficulties that The Gingko（銀杏館） was facing. The Gingko is an esteemed local social enterprise which operates restaurants that provide employments for retired elderly. In 2016, The Gingko lost their lease of their main restaurant and they were desperate to find a new space. Hong Kong is rated as one of the most expensive city to live in the world and it has the highest real-estate prices, opening a new restaurant in Hong Kong is difficult.
Jeffrey persuaded his father to lease out one of their units within the Alhambra Building for The Gingko, which has a net floor area of 300 square meters. Not only that Mr. Kwok senior agreed, he had only asked for one-eight of the market rate as the rent, hoping that the low rent would aid The Gingko’s business and facilitate their social causes.
We have built a few successful restaurant chains in Hong Kong and China and we have been experimenting with the thematic of Hong Kong’s colour and nostalgia for the past years.
This is a Vietnamese restaurant, and there is no windows so we have full control of the lighting. We were thinking that we may create an environment where the visitors may felt that they were trapped in the Saigon back in the 1960s.
We chose retain interior surfaces finishes ceilings and mottled walls to accentuate its history.
We were also the brand builder, responsible for the naming, logo and visual identity: the name of the
restaurant in Chinese is ”Old Viet-man”. We have written: “the older the hotter” at the front door. At the
end of the day, we mean it; the hotness grew with age!
CLIENT \ Gingko House www.gingkohouse.hk
ADDRESS \ 1st Floor, Alhambra Building, 383-389C Nathan Rd, Yau Ma Tei, HK
ARCHITECT \ Groundwork, Architects + Associates Ltd. www.groundworkarchitect.com
PHOTOS \ Fiona Bao [email protected]