Andrew Wong opens up about his father Kent's passing, his Bundaberg memorial service and what the future holds for the Busy Bee Fish Bar and its world famous battered chips. Picture: Rhylea Millar
Andrew Wong opens up about his father Kent's passing, his Bundaberg memorial service and what the future holds for the Busy Bee Fish Bar and its world famous battered chips. Picture: Rhylea Millar

Son opens up on Kent Wong’s memorial and future of Busy Bee

Kent Wong was one of a kind - a husband, father, grandfather and business owner who was recognised by many locals and out-of-towners for his famous fish and chips.

But on February 27, just three weeks into his retirement, tragedy struck when the owner of the Busy Bee Fish Bar passed away.

And now his son Andrew Wong has opened up about his father's death, the future of the family business and the man who has left his mark on so many.

"The support we received from the Bundaberg community was overwhelming - we had flowers at the front of the shop, the phone was ringing off the hook and messages flooded in," Andrew said.

"It's incredible and I guarantee if an Australian-Chinese man of 78-years-old who worked in and operated a fish and chip shop died in Brisbane or the Gold Coast, no one would know but the Busy Bee Fish Bar is a local icon."

Father and son Andrew and Kent Wong at the Busy Bee Fish Bar.
Father and son Andrew and Kent Wong at the Busy Bee Fish Bar.

And while the late business owner's son said he appreciated his father's dedication and hard work over the years, he believed he sacrificed a lot as a result - including his own health.

The 78-year-old had been diagnosed with a number of health conditions including Bell's Palsy, type II diabetes, high cholesterol and blood pressure and underwent major surgery on his leg.

Kent's wife Lin also had a nasty fall in the shop injuring her hand.

It was enough for Andrew to put his foot down.

Waiting for COVID-19 restrictions to ease so their son could leave the Gold Coast to help out with the Bundaberg shop, the business was forced to close the doors for about five weeks.

"I made a deal with my parents that I would help out with the shop on the proviso that they retire and sell the business - they were getting too old to continue and the work was too labour intensive," Andrew said.

"Initially I thought I'd be in Bundaberg for maybe a couple of months at most but I ended up being here for nine months."

 

Andrew Wong opens up about his father Kent's passing, his Bundaberg memorial service and what the future holds for the Busy Bee Fish Bar and its world famous battered chips. Picture: Rhylea Millar
Andrew Wong opens up about his father Kent's passing, his Bundaberg memorial service and what the future holds for the Busy Bee Fish Bar and its world famous battered chips. Picture: Rhylea Millar

Eventually finding new owners for the shop the family began preparing for their move to the Gold Coast where Andrew had hoped they would be able to seek further treatment.

But sadly Kent never made it.

Staying in Bundaberg to finalise paperwork for the sale of his business a blood clot formed in Kent's leg causing him to suffer a heart attack.

"After nine months of working my butt off at the Busy Bee I went to a costume party on the Gold Coast and was having the time of my life," Andrew said.

"My brother called me at about midnight and told me my father had collapsed, had a heart attack and died around 9pm."

 

Andrew Wong will hang up his Busy Bee cap and apron for the last time. Picture: Rhylea Millar
Andrew Wong will hang up his Busy Bee cap and apron for the last time. Picture: Rhylea Millar

Loved ones recently laid Kent to rest at the Gold Coast and will be holding a memorial service in Bundaberg on Friday to give customers and friends the opportunity to say goodbye.

Andrew said there have also been talks of creating a permanent tribute to his father inside the shop that was his second home for the last 52 years.

From 7am to 7pm on Friday Andrew and his mother Lin will be inside the vacant shop across the road from the Busy Bee Fish Bar on 38 Targo St with all members of the public welcome.

The official memorial ceremony will commence at 7pm where Andrew will pay respect to his father, answer questions and hand his Busy Bee cap and apron to the store's new owners.

"You can be rest assured that the Busy Bee Fish Bar will live on even though the Wong family won't be continuing to run it," Andrew said.

"My dad's spirit is in here somewhere watching over to make sure everybody who works here is cooking the battered chips correctly and not burning the food."

Andrew will be returning to the Gold Coast after the local memorial service with his mum Lin who will also be relocating there to be closer to extended family.

Putting a twist on traditional tributes, the family has asked rather than gifting flowers attendees are asked to bring fresh potatoes which the new owners will use to cook the first batch of battered chips.

As part of a religious Chinese tradition, incense sticks will also be provided to light and place in buckets of sand to pay respect to Kent.

Owner of Kent Wong won the hearts of many with his hardworking, kind and humble attitude. Plus he cooked Bundy’s best battered chips for the Bundaberg community to enjoy.
Owner of Kent Wong won the hearts of many with his hardworking, kind and humble attitude. Plus he cooked Bundy’s best battered chips for the Bundaberg community to enjoy.

Describing his father as "a typical Aussie battler" Andrew said he moved to the country and region after the war with no money and could barely speak English.

Kent spent his first year working in a Chinese restaurant before purchasing the Busy Bee Fish Bar store across the road.

"My dad worked hard to provide for his family and did his job well in cooking good food for the Bundaberg people to enjoy," Andrew said.

"He made sure we all had food, a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs and he put all three of his kids through university."

Kent Wong served Bundy’s best chips from his Targo St store for more than five decades.
Kent Wong served Bundy’s best chips from his Targo St store for more than five decades.

Remembering his dad as a hardworking, kind man who's favourite ritual was enjoying four meat pies and an iced coffee on a Saturday morning, Andrew said there's one memory in particular that he will always hold close to his heart.

"I called my dad one day and he told me a man with a gun walked into the shop, pointed it at Dad's head and tried to rob the shop.

"The man told him to give him the money and dad replied 'No I'm not giving you any money - I haven't got any money' and then called out to someone to call the cops before the man ran away.

"Newspapers later reported that this man had actually robbed quite a few stores and my father was the only one who refused to give him any money.

"My dad, who was in his 70s and had no martial arts training, stood up to a bully with a gun and that was the type of man my father was … he would never give in and I had never been so proud of my dad."

Kent leaves behind his wife Lin, three children Andrew, Allan and Anna and six grandchildren.

His memorial service will start at 7pm on Friday night at 38 Targo St.

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