Chin's closing its doors after 36 years in Kanawha City
Although the announcement came at the end of July, it seems like the news that Chin’s Restaurant is closing for good this month is just now starting to sink in for many.
“It is with mixed emotions that we share that after almost 36 years at our Kanawha City location, we will be retiring at the end of September and Chin’s last day of business will be Sept. 30, 2021,” the longtime Chinese restaurant – and a true local fixture – posted on Facebook back on July 28.
“As we recently celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary,” Andrew and Susanna Chin continued, “it’s the right time to start a new chapter and spend more time with our grandchildren and family.”
I hadn’t really heard much fallout of the closure until this past week, when several readers all the sudden started reaching out to lament the loss.
“As a devoted customer of Chin's Restaurant, I wanted to make sure that you were aware that Andrew Chin is permanently closing his restaurant at the end of this month,” Jeff Fleck wrote.
“This will end a long history that the Chin family has had here in Charleston. Mr. Chin’s father opened the first Chinese restaurant in Charleston.”
The Chins described the decision as a “sweet and sour” moment – their version of bittersweet, they said – since so many customers have watched their children and grandchildren grow up in the restaurant through the years, and those customers have become part of their family as well.
Their work in the restaurant business dates back to 1975 to Golden Dragon restaurant on D Street in South Charleston (behind the mound, where an Asian supermarket now stands) which was followed through the years by a small Golden Dragon spot in Parkersburg, Golden Dragon/Wai Kiki in St. Albans, Magic Wok in downtown Charleston, Chin’s and a Chin’s Express at the former Kanawha Mall food court.
While the couple had hoped to have a final celebratory dinner at the restaurant to say goodbye, current COVID concerns have put the brakes on that.
“In the current environment, and after much consideration, unfortunately we are not able to reopen the dining room before our last day,” they said. “We hope that you will continue to support us through the end with carry-out.”
Reader Carolyn Tucker Smith was also saddened by the news, saying she liked how Chin’s wasn’t like every other typical Chinese restaurant out there.
“One of the reviews on Yelp complained that they did not have the standard dishes that the person looked for in other restaurants, but I found they had many of their own dishes,” she said. “I can find Lemon Chicken in some other restaurants, but I have never seen Tahitian Chicken somewhere else. Perhaps you could even get them to share the recipe?”
What do you say, Chin’s, how about this little parting gift for your fans?
IF YOU GO: Chin’s, 4114 MacCorkle Ave. SE in Kanawha City, is open for takeout only from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 5-8 p.m. Saturday. The restaurant’s last day in business in Sept. 30. For more information, call 304-925-1080 or visit the restaurant’s Facebook page.
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Speaking of longtime local dining institutions, a reader and musician who used to entertain guests at one back in the day is looking for anyone who might have old photos of the place he remembers so fondly.
“I started playing dinner music on the organ at Rose City Cafeteria by the mound in South Charleston in June of 1969 when I was 12 years old,” wrote Robert Griffith. “I’ve lived out of state for many years and see the building was torn down, but I would love to find pictures of the outside of the building and signage if it exists.”
Griffith has seen the popular old post card circulating around that shows the banquet room you entered from the middle of the dining area, but said it’s not really representative of the look of the main restaurant or its décor.
“I’m just trying to recover some memories I made while I can still remember,” he added. “I am 65 years old presently. The manager at that time was Blanche DeBolt, but I have no idea what happened to her after those days. I was there on and off for a couple years.”
I’ve heard from many readers through the years who also have fond memories of Rose City Cafeteria, but do any of you have photos of the former restaurant’s exterior or sign as well?
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Steven Keith is a food writer and restaurant critic known as “The Food Guy” who writes a weekly column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail and has appeared in several state, regional and national culinary publications. Follow him online at www.wvfoodguy.com or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or at email@example.com.