BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (FOX 9) - Wednesday marks the end of an era for popular Chinese restaurant David Fong's in Bloomington, Minnesota.
For 64 years, the Bloomington eatery has been woven into the fabric of the community. In our Maury's Stories segment, we take a look at how generations of customers are saying so long to David Fong's.
Even before the doors opened, customers were lining up for one last meal, one last story, and one last memory at the Bloomington institution.
"We tried to get reservations and we couldn't," said Sandy Mullen.
"Their food is so good and the people are so nice and we've always had a great experience here," said Carol Anderson.
"We're just like the family and want to come back and have it one last time," said Greg Notvedt. "By the way the crab rangoon unbeatable."
Ever since the news got out that David Fong's is closing at the end of the month, customers have been coming in droves to say their goodbyes.
"It's finally starting to hit. This last week has been emotional," said owner Ed Fong. "I just can't seem to stop that part of it. It's meant a lot to not just me but also my family."
It was the end of an era on Wednesday at David Fong's in Bloomington. In this photo, Ed Fong and customers pose for a live shot on FOX 9. (FOX 9)
Ed Fong has been running his family's restaurant for 40 years but earlier this summer he decided to call it quits.
"Sometimes it comes to a time where there are other things to do in life," said Ed Fong. "I've been here 50 years. Only job I've ever known. It was time."
Fong was just two months old in 1958 when his parents – following in the footsteps of his grandfather and great grandfather who owned the Moy Cafe in north Minneapolis -- opened a small takeout restaurant near 98th and Lyndale.
"They couldn't find what they were looking for, asked for directions to get back to Minneapolis, someone told them to just turn onto Lyndale and go up Lyndale will head you back to Minneapois," explained Ed Fong. "[They] came across a small strip mall at Lyndale and Old Shakopee Road, saw a for rent sign, inquired about the property. On a handshake came back the next day and signed a lease."
Eight years later, they build a full-service restaurant a few blocks away with one of the first liquor licenses in Bloomington. With its iconic design and traditional decor, it quickly became a local landmark and allowed the Fong family to share some of its Chinese culture with the fast-growing suburb.
"We were the first Asian family in Bloomington, I believe," said Ed Fong. "We were very welcomed into the community. My parents were very proud of that fact because the community supported us. He felt he had to support them."
Over the next nearly six decades, David Fong's became a popular place for Chinese-American cuisine, both dine-in and take out, as well as birthdays, anniversaries and family gatherings.
"It's like family here," said Sue Cook. "Love the customers. Love getting to know them. Taking care of them. I kind of grew up here."
Sue Cook has worked as a waitress at Fong's for more than 40 years.
"It's sad because there are so many people who count on coming here," said Cook. "A lot of families get together. I met my husband here. We had our wedding reception here. There are a lot of memories that go into that."
"I was certainly shocked right away when they first announced it but I guess Ed gets to retire too," added John Turner. "So it's good for him but certainly a change."
John Turner has been coming to the restaurant since he was a kid, so he wanted to come back with his family for a final Fong fix.
"Sad in a sense but change happens and things move on," added Turner.
The outpouring of support isn't lost on David Fong himself, who agrees it's time for the restaurant he started to come to an end.
"Bloomington was really good for us," said David Fong. "See all the people. I just can never thank them enough."
Two other restaurants run by Ed's brother and sister in Savage and Prior Lake will continue to keep the Fong's legacy and recipes alive.
"I'll do some crazy things like go on vacation for a couple of weeks," said Ed Fong.
But customers say Bloomington is losing a legend and watching it close its doors for good will be tough to take.
"It's going to be very hard," said Ed Fong. "It's going to be hard to drive by here and not feel the car drive through the driveway. It will be hard but at the same time I can drive by and see all my memories of this place and I have enjoyable memories of this place. Also, I think it's another page in my life that I need to turn and continue on. It will be alright. It will be alright."