Ting Jiang Village Restaurant (<--click restaurant name for story) in Woodbury, CT., where Jin Lee and her siblings Rona and Brian grew up working with their parents, Gui Zhen and Zhen Lee, immigrants from Fujian province. An excerpt of Jin Lee's fond memories:
"Because my parents own the restaurant, my family spends more time in this little restaurant than in any other place in the world. My father, the chef; my mom, co-chef; my sister, helps around the restaurant; and I, the waiter; are the only four workers in this only Chinese restaurant of the town. My little brother just runs around in this playground of his and adds noise to the clatter of cooking, washing, and chopping. Ting-Jiang has become the beginning of another chapter in our family history."
Connie Tsang is a Chinese Canadian documentarian-photographer who grew up in her parents' Chinese restaurant in a small Ontario town. I noticed her photographs that captured her parents at work in their "Sunshine Restaurant" and got her permission to use them in my 2010 book, Sweet and Sour, a social history of small Chinese restaurants. I was delighted to hear a podcast, FoodStuffs, in which Connie described her experiences and feelings about her life, and that of her parents, working in the restaurant. She also shared her observations about the place of Chinese restaurants in Canadian society, and how this background influenced her identity . The part of the 31 minute podcast featuring Connie runs from about the 3:00 min. mark to the 12 min. mark. A fuller unedited interview with Connie is also available.
Story of the Joy Young Restaurant in Augusta, Georgia, a three generation restaurant for about 70 years, as told by June Law, grand daughter of the original owner.
Ming’s Restaurant was a wildly popular Chinese American restaurant in the Weequahic section of Newark, New Jersey from the late 1950’s to early 1970’s on the corner of Lyons Avenue and Clinton Place. The building still stands today although the restaurant is under a different ownership.
Ralph J. Chin shares his memories of growing up in the family restaurant, with a fascinating conclusion. His account evoked so many responses so that a few years later in 2014 he added these reflections about the key roles of his grandmother and her partner, Buckie Wong, in its success.
"... Much to my surprise when it came to dinner time for the kitchen workers, the restaurant food was usually off limits. My grandmother would cook up some “real” Chinese food that usually included fish and rice with some kind of vegetable in it. Some of it was good but most of it was not to my taste back then and many times my cousin and I would opt out and eat a slab of ribs with an eggroll and some rice. My grandmother would find this eating habit horrible and she would say something in Cantonese to us which we did not understand and walk away from us with a disgusted look on her face."