In its heyday, hungry punters would be queue for seats at the Mercury Plaza food court.

Food stall operators would be flat out keeping up with orders.

Now just a handful of businesses remain and the building, just off Auckland's Karangahape Road, looks derelict.

After 25 years of operations, stall owners have been given notice that the food court will shut its doors for the last time on October 31.

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The building will be demolished to make way for Karangahape Station, part of the $4.42 billion City Rail Link.

Albert Ooi, 64, was among the original Mercury Plaza food court operators when he opened his Malaysian food outlet "Albert's Place" in 1994, which he ran until 2006.

He returned this week to say farewell to the building he calls a "dear old friend".

"Mercury Plaza offers solace to every homesick Asian migrant, where people come to have their favourite food from their homeland," Ooi said.

"Back in the 1990s, there was not many places where people could find dishes like char kwey teow, Hainanese chicken rice or har mee."

Albert Ooi who was the pioneer chef who opened the first food stall in 1994 at the Mercury Plaza near K Road. Photo / Dean Purcell
Albert Ooi who was the pioneer chef who opened the first food stall in 1994 at the Mercury Plaza near K Road. Photo / Dean Purcell

Ooi said the food court became a meeting place. He met many of his friends when he was running his food stall.

"This food court holds a special place in my heart, and I believe also in the hearts of many Aucklanders," he said.

"It is really like a dear old friend and I am really sad to see it go. I have too many good memories here, and the people here are like one big family."

The attraction, according to Ooi, was because the food was authentic and cheap. His Malaysian char kwey teow was priced at just $6 back then.

"Besides Mercury Plaza, there was just Food Alley on Albert Street as the other food court, but the range of food is different," Ooi said.

The Mercury Plaza near K Road which will be shutting down and demolished next month to make way for a new train station as part of the Auckland City Rail Link.. Photo / Dean Purcell
The Mercury Plaza near K Road which will be shutting down and demolished next month to make way for a new train station as part of the Auckland City Rail Link.. Photo / Dean Purcell

In its 25-year history, the plaza has been home to an amusement arcade, an Asian supermarket and a Chinese hairdresser.

The pin-ball machines and old arcade games are still there in various states of disrepair. Graffiti covers the walls and unoccupied food stalls.

The only surviving stall among the pioneers is Chinese Cuisine, which shares the food court with another Chinese stall, two Japanese takeaways, plus a Thai and a Korean outlet.

Khwanruethai Thivonruk, 35, of E-Sarn Wok says "everyone is sad to go".

"This is a good place, you know, and we like it here," she said.

Booyarit Kummoon and Khwanruethai Thivonruk (R) who run E-Sarn Wok Thai food at the Mercury Plaza. Photo/ Dean Purcell
Booyarit Kummoon and Khwanruethai Thivonruk (R) who run E-Sarn Wok Thai food at the Mercury Plaza. Photo/ Dean Purcell

Thivonruk has another restaurant in Mission Bay, which will be her focus after the closure.

A City Rail Link spokesman said it was aware that the building owners have been in discussions with each of the businesses affected.

"The discussions between tenants and their landlord are an important part of this process, and CRL is providing information and assistance in the process," he said.

Work on the Karangahape Station, which includes platforms and tunnels, is expected to start later this year.

The spokesman also gave the assurance that CRL would meet its obligations under the Public Works Act, which has a clause which means a business that must relocate should be compensated about $25,000 as a starting point.

The Mercury Plaza. Photo / Dean Purcell
The Mercury Plaza. Photo / Dean Purcell

He said the Mercury Plaza site will be leased, and is not included in land purchased by CRL.

One frequent customer, 40-year-old businessman Johnny Wong, was just a student when he first visited the food court in 1995.

"Still remember the first bite of the char kwey teow, there's no where else you can get such authentic food back then," said Wong, who hails from Malaysia.

Now, Wong goes there with his wife and son, 3, about once a month.

"It's changed a lot and now there's lots of other places to eat, but I feel this food court has played such a big part in my life," he said.

Wong said he understood the need for redevelopment, but hope the food court could be incorporated into the new train station.