The serving up of butterfly prawn with chow mein and rice, sweet and sour pork, wonton soup, chicken chop suey and other tasty staples of American Chinese cuisine will come to an end at Vashon’s Green Ginger Restaurant on Oct. 29, when the restaurant will close permanently due to a loss of income due during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since March, the restaurant has offered take-out meals only.
Angela Wu, who has owned the restaurant with her husband Andy since 2007, said that she had not reopened Green Ginger for dine-in service, even after Gov. Inslee’s Safe Start plan allowed her to do so, because she felt it was too dangerous given that her staff included so many family members, including two brothers, a cousin and sister-in-law.
“I didn’t want to take any chances for the family to get [the virus]”, Wu said. “To-go was better.”
Income from take-out dinner orders has remained strong throughout the pandemic, she said, but the loss of the restaurant’s brisk dine-in lunch business has put her in a position where she is no longer able to afford her monthly rent and a portion of the property tax on the building, which is owned by islander Peter Chorak, Sr.
Wu added that she did not sign a new lease last year, because she felt the rent was too high. Now, she said, she’s glad she will be able to close the restaurant more quickly than would have been possible had she signed the lease.
Chorak, reached for comment, said he had accepted sizeable reductions in rent from the restaurant for some time but was no longer able to do so, citing his own hard economic stresses related to the pandemic.
Wu said she has many happy memories of running the restaurant — her latest experience in the restaurant business since the age of 14, when she moved with her family from Canton, China, to the United States. She has worked in Chinese restaurants ever since, she said.
Over the years, Wu said, five children have grown up at the Green Ginger Restaurant, including her own now teenaged sons, as well as nieces and nephews.
The restaurant’s loyal customers, she said, have also become like family to her and the staff.
“Everybody is very nice here, the island is like family, everybody knows everybody else, all the customers are really nice,” Wu said.
As a gesture of thanks to the community, Wu said the restaurant would offer a free buffet to islanders on Oct. 30.
She also said she hoped to open another business soon, but didn’t yet know her exact plans.
“We’re going to take a break and see what happens,” she said. “If I find somewhere small, I could offer to-go.”
Green Ginger is the second restaurant to announce that it will close its doors in recent weeks.
On Sept. 27, The Vashon Community Pub temporarily shut its doors, but owners Baynody Méndez Jiménez and Cliff Goodman said they will invite islanders back to the pub in the spring.
In an interview with The Beachcomber, Goodman compared operating the restaurant to playing a game of Russian roulette.
“You know, worrying about people, are they wearing their masks? What about groups that come in? Are they from the same household or not? Goodman said. “And know that our family, our staff, our guests could get sick and potentially die? It’s been really hard. And now that we’re looking at wintertime, it’s like, you know, this is time to take a break and see how things go.”
Green Ginger has recently run an advertisement in The Beachcomber, listing the business for sale for $80,000 — a price that includes all kitchen equipment and furniture. Interested parties were directed to contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 206-463-7788.