Hong Kong restaurant celebrates its 60th anniversary | New


When Buoy Lee, owner and founder of the Hong Kong Chinese restaurant, first walked past the property at 1238 Mass. Ave. in 1954, she was able to feel her potential.

“I said to myself– damn, this place has feng shui, ”said Lee.

This week, like the Kong, as the restaurant is affectionately known to the students, preparing to celebrate its 60th birthday, Lee and his family reflected on the company’s growth and its historic standing in Harvard Square.

“We are constantly reinvesting in the restaurant,” said Paul Lee, Buoy Lee’s son and restaurant manager. “I saw it as they were building a legacy and I’m just trying to build on that.”

Although Buory Lee was around 20 when she emigrated from her native township, China, to the United States, she managed to make the restaurant a success and eventually opened a second location in the downtown area at Faneuil Hall. .

“I came here, I didn’t know anything, I was so scared when I came,” said Buory Lee. “I was born in poor Chinano money, no nothing. That’s why when I first came here, I didn’t mind working hard.

According to Paul Lee, Buory Lee and her late husband have invested in infrastructure like sprinklers that have proven to be beneficial in the long run.

This vision has helped the Hong Kong restaurant continue to grow over the past 60 years. This week the Lee family celebrated both Chinese New Year and another special achievement-a “Cornerstone of Harvard Square Award” from the Harvard Square Business Association.

“They are a wonderful family, a great landmark, wonderful community partners and longtime members of the Business Association,” said Denise A. Jillson, Executive Director of the Harvard Square Business Association.

Paul Lee, the current manager of the Hong Kong restaurant in Harvard Square, runs the restaurant with his siblings Evelyn and Mary. The family business is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. By Varnel L Antoine

While Paul Lee can’t recall which month specifically marks the commemoration of their founding, the family plans to officially celebrate the occasion in the spring.

After originally operating a laundry in Brighton, Buory Lee and her husband decided to open Hong Kong with three other partners, who no longer hold any shares in the business.

Although Harvard Square was not the best shopping environment at the time, said Buory Lee, she predicted that Square would improve.

“At that time, no one was walking,” said Buory Lee. “Later it will be a very busy place. ”

Despite slow foot traffic, the Kong didn’t wait long to find success.

“At first when we opened it was very busy, but later the business collapsed,” she added.

According to Paul Lee, the Lee family went from bank to bank until they could get a loan and buy out the other partners around 1956.

During the 1960s, Cambridge landowner Bertha Cohen expressed interest in purchasing the building. However, Buory Lee did his best to persuade Cohen not to buy the building.

“Every week we cooked lobster and white rice [to bring over to Cohen]Buory Lee said. Whether it was the lobster or Lee’s persistence, Cohen refused to buy the building, and in 1970 the Lees finally bought the property.

After obtaining ownership of the building, the Lee family continued to work hard for a living and to provide for their three children, Paul Lee said.

“For us it was a real livelihood, that’s how they put food on the table,” he said. “It’s almost like their job rather than their passion.

Throughout Kong’s history, the restaurant has developed strong ties with customers and the community. The restaurant even has a good reputation among Chinese tourists, according to Buory Lee.

“They say our food is very good,” she said.

For many Harvard students of all ages, Kong’s Legacy has been a typical weekend destination to hang out and for a late-night meal.

“The Kong is a classic late night spot,” said R. Christopher Read II ’17. “Whether he’s coming from the late-night festivities or getting ready for a late-night study night, the Kong fulfills both roles. ”

Daniel J. Rhodes ’01 spent many nights with members of the Harvard Marching Band at Kong and has been a regular at the restaurant ever since.

“I got to know the staff there,” Rhodes said. “I’ve been going there for 15 years now, and it’s nice to see it’s still there.

Dean of freshmen Thomas A. Dingman ’67 also has many memories of going out to eat as a student.

“My favorite part? It must be a scorpion bowl,” Dingman said. “I have so many memories of going there with a group of friends usually late at night after another activity.”

– Editor-in-Chief Ivan BK Levingston can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @IvanLevingston.

—Editor Celeste M. Mendoza can be contacted at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @CelesteMMendoza.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

CORRECTION: March 3, 2014

An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of Buoy Lee, the founder of the Hong Kong restaurant.

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