Steven Jones of Granny’s Florist is heartbroken.
“I used to eat there at least three times a week,” Jones said.
One of Jones’ favorite restaurants, Chan’s Garden, on Third Avenue in Conway, is closing up shop after 35 years in business.
Yiu Wing Chan and Hoi Fai Chan, otherwise known as Mr. and Mrs. Chan, say that they plan to enjoy their grandchildren more, travel more, and just relax.
The Chans came to Conway from Hong Kong in 1984.
“We came here in hopes to start a restaurant that would be able to support our family,” Mr. Chan said.
The couple has two children, Oiling and Kenneth, and they have three granddaughters and one grandson. Mrs. Chan’s sister, Siu, came to Conway in the 80s with the family as well. She and her husband have two children.
Chan said theirs was one of the first Chinese restaurants in Conway at the time.
“We remember families waiting in line to get into our restaurant to enjoy quality family-style Chinese food,” Chan said.
Family has been a main component of the restaurant for both the owners and the customers.
The family grew up working in the restaurant.
“…and even until the last day everyone was still there working their hardest,” he said. “They each have their own family now, but on every Sunday they all returned to Chan’s to work and enjoy family lunch together. With all the ways to communicate nowadays, we are extremely lucky to have been able to sit down with one another and share a meal together as a family every week.”
He said the best part of owning the restaurant was meeting the community and making friendships along the way.
“We loved seeing all the families come in over the years. Watching those children grown into adults and bringing their own families has been a joy for us,” Chan said.
As for the ups and downs of owning a business, Chan said they never had a lot of problems.
“Honestly the restaurant has been very consistent for us and there have not been any extremely difficult times over the years. The closure of the downtown bridge this year might just be the biggest impact anything has had over the course of the last 35 years,” Chan said.
More than 100 comments showed up on their social media post about their May 19 closing, filled with sad emojis and shared stories of how Conway families had been enjoying Chan’s for many years.
Jones said Chan’s had many regular customers, and Mrs. Chan always knew what everyone wanted.
“Sometimes she would have your drink waiting for you when she saw you walk in the door,” Jones said. “You don’t often get that kind of really personal service.”
Chan said by far their most popular dish was their Boneless Chicken smothered in brown gravy, and their handmade eggrolls.
“We are often asked for our gravy recipe, but it would be difficult to recreate at home. The gravy is cooked in our wok which is used to cook most of the dishes. The wok is very similar to a cast-iron skillet in that it becomes more seasoned as it is used, and makes everything taste better,” Chan said.
On their farewell Facebook post, Chan’s said that they did share some recipes with the new owners, and those owners hope to open the restaurant back up in June under a new name.
“I wish them the best of luck and hope everyone will give them a try, just as everyone did 35 years ago for us,” Chan said.