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2016.037.019 Oral History Interview with Wilson Tang 2015/10/30

Wilson Tang is a second-generation Chinese American restaurateur who was born in 1978 and grew up in Queens, New York. Before Tang was born, his parents decided to move out of Manhattans Chinatown to Queens to have a better family environment. Tang later found his way back to Chinatown when he attended college at nearby Pace University. After college, he went into a finance career, a path his parents strongly encouraged him to pursue. Tang quickly realized that the rat race of the traditional 9-5 job did not hold much appeal for him, and he began to consider entering the restaurant industry as his parents had done when they first immigrated during the early 1970s. Tangs first venture was a bakery opened in a building his father owned on Allen street. The bakery successfully ran from 2004 to 2007; however, success came at a steep price for Tangs personal health and well-being. Tang returned to the finance world in 2007 in order to regain control of his lifestyle and life-work balance. It was during this break from the restaurant world that Tang met his future wife and got engaged. In 2011 the opportunity to take over his uncle’s dim sum restaurant Nam Wah arose. More convinced than ever that the career of restauranteering was his true calling and despite the stress of his previous experience, Tang and his fiance decided to make the leap. The couple did some light renovations and refreshed the menu before opening, attempting to breathe new life into Nam Wah while preserving its historic atmosphere. As Nom Wah was renovated, Tang decided to create a Facebook page to document the long history of the tea parlor. The business received positive coverage from both the Daily News and the New York Times. As a result of this media coverage, business flourished and Nom Wah became a staple of Chinatown. Tang is grateful for the success he has experienced, but notes that the restaurant industry is still an incredibly demanding field. He hopes to use his success as a platform to elevate and support other Chinese American entrepreneurs and Chinatown businesses in NYC.

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2016.037.020 Oral History Interview with Yvonne and Mike Thompson 2015/12/02

Yvonne and Mike Thompson are restaurant owners who started their small business in Pounding Mill, Virginia in 1979. Their restaurant, Cuzs, brought an unexpected combination of Southern homestyle cooking with Chinese cuisine to their small coal mining town. Yvonne was born and raised in Hong Kong and describes enjoying delicious home cooked meals as well as dim sum restaurants and banquets during her childhood. She later moved to St Louis, Missouri to attend college and work in her Uncle Wongs upscale Chinese restaurant The Lantern House. Eventually opening a barbeque restaurant on her husband Mikes family dairy farm, Yvonne explains how she gradually shaped their menu to include American Southern-Chinese fusion dishes like their popular cheese eggroll. Yvonne is proud of the cultural impact Cuzs has had on their small coal-mining community. Mike Thompson was born and grew up in Cedar Bluff, Virginia. While several of his family members became doctors and pursued the medical field, the family also owned and operated a large 5,000 acre farm. Mike fondly describes his childhood experiences of enjoying his mothers homestyle Southern cooking and hospitality. He goes on to describe how he opened Cuzs restaurant with his wife Yvonne on his familys farm. Mike notes that international travel has played a significant role in expanding his palette and improving his cooking.