A new Orland restaurant featuring Chinese food will be located on Fourth Street in the building formerly occupied by Kountry Kitchen Cafe. For the past 11 years May Mai and her husband, Wei, have operated the Maple Garden (Fast Chinese Food to Go), next to Billy and Emily’s Donut Shop in the Sav Mor Shopping Center. This was a great location with plenty of nearby parking but with a very small seating area. Therefore, most of their business was based on a steady flow of take-out orders. Their new restaurant will seat up to about 48 people in the original Kountry Kitchen Café. The interior of the restaurant is being totally remodeled after being stripped to the studs. I was very impressed by the construction crew’s swift progress, first-class workmanship and use of quality materials.
May Mai was born in Canton, China and came to the United States when she was a teenager. The new menu will feature authentic Cantonese, Mandarin and Szechuan style Chinese food. Interestingly May’s landlord, the owners of Sapphire Plaza, played a big role in the decision to move to their new location; they told her that rent was going to be doubled. In the future there will be no landlord problems because May and her husband bought the Kountry Kitchen Café. The total investment in the new Maple Garden will be substantial. May is confident that her on-going take-out orders will almost be enough to maintain the business at their new location. Sit down diners will add to the bottom line, and assist in recovering their investment. They should also be saving a lot on rent.
I asked a very savvy and successful Orland business person their opinion about our city’s residents being able to support two Chinese restaurants. After pondering they answered: “That is a very difficult question.” There is a business theory that more good restaurants will attract more customers; as the “pie gets bigger” all of the restaurants will get a larger slice. On the other hand, my wife and I enjoy Chinese food at Uncle Chong’s about twice a month. In the future we will probably alternate between Orland’s two Chinese restaurants. We want to continue to patronize and be loyal to Uncle Chong’s, but we also want to be supportive of a new business venture that depends on Orland people to succeed. Will we eat Chinese food more often? Not likely. Therefore, a gain in business for one Orland restaurant will be offset by a loss of business to another. Regrettably, many of us are spending a lot of our dining-out dollars in neighboring communities. We can all help by eating out locally more often.