The Hotel Grand Central is situated at the junction of Cavenagh and Kramat Roads off the busy Orchard Road shopping and tourist belt. Established by Malaysian-based businessman Tan Chee Hoe, the premises of the hotel were first used in the early 1960s as a motor showroom for Isuzu cars and trucks. In 1968, the family decided to convert the showroom into a hotel and the 142-room Hotel Grand Central was opened in 1972. The hotel’s holding company, Hotel Grand Central, was floated on the local stock exchange in 1978 to fund expansion plans that saw the property’s capacity increased to 365 rooms in 1982. In the 1980s, the hotel became known for its dining outlets La Taverna di Kublai Khan, which specialised in Mongolian barbeque, and the La Taverna Ristorante, which served Italian cuisine. The hotel’s Beautiful People Lounge was also a popular gathering place for old ‘Rafflesians’, the nickname given to alumni of the prestigious Raffles Institution pre-tertiary school. The Hotel Grand Central franchise has since expanded to include hotels in Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand.