IPOH: Dec 9, 2008 By Jaspal Singhjaspal@nst.com.my
Just visit Tan Leong Hin's chicken rice stall at the junction of Jalan Ali Pitchay and Jalan Yang Kalsom here to get a plate for RM2.
Tan sells his chicken rice at RM2 per plate or packet from 4pm to 6pm daily.
"I don't make a profit selling chicken at RM2, but neither do I make a loss.
"I think this is what people call a win-win situation. I keep my customers and they enjoy cheap food for a certain period every day."
The 33-year-old starts his business at 10am but sells his chicken rice at RM2.50.
"Every businessman needs to make a profit, but not too much, and not now when more people are eating at home because of the economic downturn."
Tan, helped by his Vietnamese girlfriend, Tran Ngu-yen, 25, said the RM2 plate contained the same portion as the RM2.50 plate.
"Tarak kurang punya. Tak mahu tipu sama orang (Same portions. I do not cheat anyone)."
Before moving to Jalan Yang Kalsom, he sold chicken rice at several spots here and sometimes sold it at RM2.80.
He moved to the present location for a larger customer base and was able to reduce his price to RM2.50 during peak hours.
He said he enjoyed brisk business, selling between 20 and 30 birds daily.
"Before moving to Jalan Yang Kalsom, I sold only 10 chickens a day.
"Since moving here, business has been good.
"I could have still charged RM2.80, considering that other chicken rice sellers in the area charge between RM3 and RM4, but I decided not to make too much profit.
"Ultimately, an affordable price is what customers look for when eating out. So RM2.50 is reasonable."
He can charge RM2 in the evening because he collects the birds from his supplier in Jelapang himself.
"Since I live in Jelapang, I do the collecting myself. This saves me 30 sen per bird, and I also save on fuel costs."
He added that his customers would also buy vegetable dishes, sold at 70 sen per serving, to go with their chicken rice.
However, he said, despite the RM2 price in the evenings, most of his customers visited his stall between 10am and 4pm.
The latecomers are students or elderly folk who either take lunch late or dinner early.
He said he sold eight birds during the discount period, which he dubbed his "happy hours".
One person who enjoys Tan's happy hours is Grace Nandini, a 37-year-old insurance company clerk who has been a regular since the RM2 stall opened eight months ago.
"Where can anyone get chicken rice for RM2 nowadays?
"For me, this is a deal not to be missed.
"I don't mind coming here to eat because it is still fresh compared with some sellers who refrigerate their unsold stock to sell at a higher price the next day."
Grace's sentiment was shared by Hock San, 44, a tow-truck driver who comes to Tan's stall about 5pm because of the nature of his work.
"Since I run around a lot, I drop by to have a bite before moving about again. The RM2 tag is another reason I come here to eat."
Tan hopes to repeat his RM2 chicken rice success by opening another outlet here, and is in discussion with a restaurant owner near the Tasek industrial area to rent a space for his stall.
"I am thinking about the price to charge during peak hours but the RM2 rate will be maintained two hours before closing.
"It helps me to sell everything I have prepared for the day, and I am also providing a way to eat chicken rice at a cheap price.
"I think I am also helping the country," he says with a smile before going back to serving his customers.