Despite having no prior experience in the food industry, the love and dedication for their 16-year-old autistic son inspired a 56-year-old businessman, Henry Teong and his wife to open a pizza stall, in order to prepare his son for future self-reliance.
While working as a chemical raw materials trader during the day, Mr Teong works three consecutive nights a week at their stall, 168 Neapolitan Style Pizza, at Taman Jurong Food Centre.
Recently interviewed by local media 8Days and Shin Min Daily News, Mr Teong shed light on the challenges of setting up the stall and his desire to prepare for his son’s future.
Mr Teong and his wife opened the stall in February this year. He told Shin Min Daily that as his retirement age was approaching and his business was declining, he thought it was time to plan for his son Jonus.
Why pizza? Mr Teong confessed that his family are pizza lover and he was interested to study how to make it.
He learned the basics of making hand-stretched pizza from his friend, who is an Italian chef. Later, putting his experience in the chemical industry to use, he experimented countless times to come up with his own recipe for the dough.
Opens from 6pm to 9pm on Thursdays to Saturdays
Mr Teong prepares enough dough for a week, which is essentially just three days of business, as he only opens from 6pm to 9pm on Thursdays to Saturdays.
He works this hard, says Mr Teong, because “we are trying to create a job for Jonus to help out at the stall [someday]”.
He added: “Currently, he has no capacity to think about this issue yet, but hopefully when he gets older he will start to understand how to make a living”.
“We train him (Jonus) to develop habits of doing something, so that he feels a sense of belonging and is willing to continue, without forcing him to gradually change his way of life.”
Son good at working with regularity and helpful in household work
Mr Teong said Jonus is agile and has good learning ability. He is also good at working with regularity and helps with laundry and drying clothes at home at fixed times every day.
His 20-year-old elder son, Benjamin, who is considering enrolling in a business course at university and may take over the stall eventually. Benjamin also helps to manage their social media accounts.
How we make the pizza! 🍕 😋#tamanjurong #pizza #neapolitanpizza #foodcourt
Netizens applaud Mr Teong and his wife love and dedication to their son
Rainbow Centre Singapore, a Singaporean organization that serves persons with disabilities from birth to adulthood, also commented on Mr Teong’s story, applauding Jonus’s parents’ dedication.
Rainbow Centre believes that with the right support and guidance, autistic persons can contribute and thrive in various workplaces.
” We hope that more opportunities to work can be presented to autistic individuals as they too, can contribute meaningfully to society. ”
Other netizens also commented on Shin Min Daily’s Facebook post, praising the sacrifice of Jonus’ parents.
One netizen wrote, “You are the best dad, you will become even better. Don’t tire yourself out too much, remember to take care of your health.”
“I’ve tried it twice, it’s delicious and not greasy, the price is fair, and the owner treats customers well! Keep it up!”
“A parent’s love is universal, always thinking of their children. This father is truly great.”
Some netizens commented that they have loved ones who are also autistic and shared Mr. Teong’s dedication:
“Dad, keep going, your son can do it. I deeply understand your difficulties because my 28-year-old son with autism is now working as an assistant engineer in a factory through hard work.”
“A parent’s love is universal. I can deeply understand your hard work for your autistic son because my grandson is also autistic. I hope they can have a skill to take care of themselves in the future.”