Since the 1920s, Hysan Development and its predecessor companies have spread their roots throughout Causeway Bay, turning the district into a trendsetting and one of the most prosperous retail and commercial hubs in the world.
The Hysan95 exhibition was launched today to celebrate the 95th anniversary of Mr. Lee Hysan’s acquisition of East Point, the area now known as Lee Gardens. A number of guests with strongties to Causeway Bay have been invited to share their stories, enabling the public to appreciate Causeway Bay from different perspectives.
During the Hysan95 “I left my heart in Causeway Bay” sharing session today, Ms. Irene Lee, Chairman of Hysan Development Company Limited, and her guests with deep affection for Causeway Bay took a stroll down memory lane to revisit the past, celebrate the present, and look forward to the future together.
Causeway Bay as its Home: Hysan Setting the Global Trend
Ever since Mr. Lee Hysan’s acquisition of East Point, the area now known as Lee Gardens, 95 years ago, Hysan has been contributing to the long-term development of Causeway Bay. Ms. Irene Lee, Chairman of Hysan Development Company Limited, said, “Over the years, Hysan has made its home in Causeway Bay and committed itself to the mission of ‘Business of Life’. Working hand-in-hand with the people and the community of Causeway Bay, it has strived through the evolving eras with changing population, embracing both the challenges and opportunities brought by technological advancement to promote the district as a modern community where people can enjoy living, working, and having fun together.”
The Cradle of Dreams in Performing Arts: A Timeless Performance at Lee Theatre
Lee Theatre, with its beautifully crafted theatre boxes, red carpets, and red velvet seats, was built in the 1920s as a first-rate performance venue in Hong Kong and Asia, where major Cantonese operas, concerts, and world-class arts events provided audiences with once-in-a-life-time experiences.
Ms. Elisa Chan, prominent local singer who once performed at the Lee Theatre, said, “I was one of the performing guests at the finals of the 1980 Miss Hong Kong Pageant together with Flora Cheung, Adam Cheng, Teresa Carpio, and Phillip Chan. What impressed me the most was the magnificent revolving stage. Lee Theatre was like today’s Hong Kong Coliseum, the first-choice concert venue for most renowned singers, including Roman Tam and
Teresa Teng. Having the opportunity to perform at the Lee Theatre back then remains a deeply memorable experience to me.”
The Lee Theatre was not only a platform where celebrities shared their performances and beautiful songs with the people, it was also the birthplace of a new generation of artists. Ms. Eyvonne Lam, actress and contestant in the 1980 Miss Hong Kong Pageant, said, “Lee Theatre has notable meanings to me as it signified the starting point of my career in the performing arts. When I entered the Pageant and was lucky enough to be one of the finalists, I was
only 21 years old and was already given the opportunity to compete at the monumental Lee Theatre. I can still vividly recall all that happened.
Afterthe Pageant, I was immediately offered a job with the television company to kick-start my acting career and was cast in various very popular television dramas. Walking past Lee Theatre with my husband these days, I realize it is no longer a theatre and cinema. Nonetheless, with the great numberof new exciting restaurants and shops it has now, Lee Theatre is definitely one of the best spots for entertainment and shopping in Causeway Bay.”
Little Ginza in Hong Kong: Birthplace of Japanese Culture
Causeway Bay not only contains a wide range of entertainment options but has also embraced the hottest and latest products. Daimaru, the first ever Japanese-owned department store in Hong Kong, was opened in Causeway Bay in the 1960s, followed by the launch of other Japanese-owned stores including Matsuzukaya, Mitsukoshi and Sogo, which reinvigorated the district’s trendy image and shaped it into what was known as the “Little Ginza in
Hong Kong”. Christine Tsoi, a marketing manager who went to both primary and secondary schools in Causeway Bay, said, “When I was young, I alwayswandered around Causeway Bay. It was where I was first introduced to Japanese culture: Japanese cuisine, records, stationery, and all sorts of books that I could never get enough. I love the fact that Causeway Bay is a diverse district with both new and old elements. It still has all the distinctive tenement buildings and old stores, but it also provides the latest and most fashionable cuisine and entertainment experiences, allowing people to spend the whole day here having great fun.”
Legacy of Tai Ping Koon Restaurant: Sustaining Unique Sense of Humanity in Causeway Bay
When it comes to old stores in Causeway Bay, one cannot forget the first ever Chinese-owned Western restaurant, Tai Ping Koon Restaurant.
This long-standing favourite restaurant was first opened on Pak Sha Road, Causeway Bay, in the 1970s, introducing the “soy sauce Western cuisine” to Causeway Bay and shaping such famous dishes as Swiss chicken wings, pigeons, smoked pomfret, Portuguese chicken, and soufflé deep into the collective memory of so many Hong Kong people. The decoration of the restaurant has remained pristine throughout its long history and the dimmed light has
added a touch of romance to its environment. Rain or shine, the restaurant attracts many familiar customers and people living nearby week after week to come and taste their food and explore their distinct flavour of bonding.
Mr. Andrew Chui, the fifth generation owner of the Tai Ping Koon Restaurant, said, “The business of Tai Ping Koon Restaurant has been passed from one generation to another, similar to how we have customers coming from one generation to the next. Many of them first came to our restaurant with their elder family members when they were small. As they matured, they would come in three generations altogether.
We have developed a deep affection for each other. Over the years, we have been determined to keep the upper unit of our restaurant as the dormitory for our staff, providing them with air-conditioning, refrigerators, bathrooms, and private bed spaces, so that they can put their feet up when we are closed in the afternoon or stay overnight after work.
We are a big family. Despite the changing times, we always hope that we can preserve the traditional memory and taste of Tai Ping Koon Restaurant that have appealed to our customers.”
Lee Gardens Hotel & “Yum Sing Bar” filled with Childhood Party Memories
Mr. Benny Lau, film director and RTHK Radio Host who grew up in Causeway Bay, recounted his stories of the district. “When I was small, I was invited to attend my friend’s birthday buffet party at the Lee Gardens Hotel every year. It was an important, annual occasion to me. Knowing that I had to go to a high-end hotel, I would groom myself as nicely as possible and prepare my best for the event.” Ms. Irene Lee also shared, “In addition to the buffet area ofLee Gardens Hotel, the ‘Yum Sing Bar’ which was imbued with the style of an English clubhouse with popular local cultural elements was also a great placefor throwing a birthday party and organizing gatherings. Our project to recreate ‘Yum Sing Bar’ last year was very successful. I believe it is a place thatembodied many Hong Kong people’s memories of having small talks, enjoying delicacies, and dancing the night away with friends and their loved ones.”
Continuous Demonstration of Causeway Bay’s Vitality
The community of Causeway Bay has grown along with many people, both young and old. Isaac Han, a third-year university student, said, “When compared to the highly commercialized areas of Central and Wan Chai, Causeway Bay is more approachable and lively. I have always loved to hang out and go shopping here with my friends after school. After graduation, I wish to work or even live in this convenient district which has given me so many fond memories.”
Hysan95 Exhibition & Nostalgic Photo Booth: Sharing Traditional Hand-made Candy Packs
As the founding member of Lee Gardens Association, Hysan Development has been proactive to connect with different tenants and the public to build closer relationships through organizing a wide variety of interesting and unique events, including the “Hong Kong Sevens”, “Arts in the Park Night Parade”, and Hong Kong’s first-ever egglettes festival, “Lee Gardens’ EGGssentially Art!”.
Hysan also combines the strengths of different businesses in the Lee Gardens area to promote a delightful and energetic atmosphere in the district and create an ideal community for Hong Kong people. To let people enjoy Causeway Bay stories, Hysan Development is holding an exhibition at the entrance of the Lee Theatre from today until 12 July, sharing the selective tales of peoplewho have close ties to Causeway Bay. They include Savin Kwok, owner of Tak Shing Tea Stall, Brother Fai, Fire Dragon Master of the Tai Hang Residents’ Welfare Association, and Mr. Cheung, owner of Ambassador Barber Parlour, etc. Together they make up a unique and irreplaceable collective memory, allowing the public to appreciate Causeway Bay from their various perspectives.
A photo booth will also be set up at the exhibition from 12pm to 8pm every day from 30 June to 8 July, letting people immerse themselves in the bygone Lee Theatre and Lee Gardens Hotel. They can also share their stories about Causeway Bay on the digital guest books to revisit the past, celebrate the present, and look forward to the future. Those who give a “like” on the Hysan95 Facebook and Instagram pages on 2, 6, 7 & 8, July from 12pm to 5pm will receive a free pack of locally made, retrospective candies on a first-come-first-serve basis. People who post and share
their interesting and affectionate stories about their relationship with Causeway Bay will also have a chance to win a ticket for “Elisa Chan Private Music Room 2018” concert.