Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Good-bye and an Egg Roll, Please

Today very well may be the last day I ever eat Chinese food. My favorite Chinese restaurant for the last 14 years is closing its doors. The sign on the glass front door reads:
It is with a very heavy heart that we announce we are closing Wednesday, April 26.

Hing Loung's owner, Peggy, kept us company while we ate dinner in her place on Friday. She told us, with a big sigh, that she and her husband were simply tired. It's no wonder. They do all the work, and I mean ALL the work, themselves. Over the last 14 years, they've had a part-time server on occassion as well as a dishwasher here and there. But most of the time, it's just them. Her husband, who started his professional career as a Szechuan chef in New York, prepares all the food, by scratch. Peggy said he is there from 9am or 11am until nearly midnight, seven days a week. He hasn't been back to China in over 20 years, she said. She doubts he could find his way around their hometown because so much has changed.

Everything is so expensive, too. Her lease expenditure is the lowest in the strip center only because she's the only original leasee left. But even so, she said it's just too expensive. We talked about how more and more family-owned restaurants will close because of the economy. I couldn't disagree... there are 99¢ menus on every corner and that is affordable for most.

She hopes to take a break and then search for a situation that will allow them to just serve carry-out. That would eliminate a bulk of their overhead and still give them a chance to do what they love: cook and see their regular customers. I hope she is able to make that happen. She has a large number of regular customers who hope the same, too.


Anonymous Dave2 said...

It seems everywhere you go, family restaurants are closing up right and left. It's a sad day indeed when all that's left is fast-food franchises and nation-wide chains. :-(

April 26, 2006 2:15 PM  
Anonymous Robert said...

Same is true, I'm afraid, in all industries. My independent bookshop, while it was breaking even, was only doing so because I didn't pay myself. Hardly a success story and impossible to compete with the 30% and 40% expectations that Amazon and Barnes & Noble have created. What the customers don't realize is that unless you ARE Amazon or Barnes & Noble, 40% off is what the retail store are paying for their inventory. We will all-too-soon be a country of nothing but big box chains.

April 26, 2006 7:21 PM  
Blogger Juli said...

Robert, I managed an indie bookstore until the big dogs moved in. The little shop just couldn't take the hit. I'm happy that this town has been able to support at least one indie shop though.

April 30, 2006 1:31 PM  

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