Customers Bid Fond Farewell to Hunan Kitchen
Jul 30, 2018 01:00PM
● By Brian Choquet
Photos and Story by BRIAN CHOQUET, Contributing Writer
Before closing their doors on June 30, Hunan Kitchen sent out some of its last orders of General Tso’s chicken, as well as a slew of other popular Chinese dishes that locals have been enjoying for the past 23 years.
The news spread in early June when owner Jimmy Chang announced on social media that the beloved restaurant in Bellingham Marketplace on South Main Street would be closing at the end of the month. The same message was also left near the entrance of the restaurant.
“We would like to thank our customers from [the] Bellingham, Franklin, Blackstone area and beyond for all of your business,” said Chang in the Facebook post.
The comment section then became a hub for mourning as patrons of Hunan Kitchen shared their sadness over the announcement.
For Bellingham resident Jennifer Giordano, Hunan Kitchen had become a weekly tradition—“mai tai Fridays” as she called them—for her and her family and friends after they started going to Hunan almost eight years ago.
“[We] ordered plenty of Asian cuisine, Shirley Temples and, of course, mai tais!” said Giordano. “It was an amazing place.”
It’s not all sad news though. Jimmy, as well as his wife and co-owner, Rainbow, are now able to retire after years of working in the restaurant industry.
As the 65-year-old restaurateur ate during Hunan’s downtime between their lunch crowd and the dinner rush, he chuckled about the idea of missing the restaurant and the endless hours of work that came with it.
He simply said that he was tired and was ready to take some time to rest, especially during those last few days before the restaurant’s closing.
Since he immigrated to the United States in 1978 from Taiwan, Jimmy had worked in Asian-themed restaurants as a waiter before gradually working his way up to owning his own restaurant.
The couple opened Hunan Kitchen in Bellingham in 2005, but they’d been serving up classic Chinese cuisine in the area since 1995.
Before Hunan, they ran a Chinese restaurant in Franklin with a business partner, but after some time, they decided to leave it behind and start again in Bellingham. The two chose Bellingham because of the high number of customers from their old restaurant that lived here.
With small, family-owned businesses, customer loyalty can be very important. Luckily for Jimmy, he says he was fortunate for all the repeat customers he has had throughout the years. He was also fortunate to have many of his old customers follow him to Hunan Kitchen after he and Rainbow had moved to Bellingham.
This includes 20-year patron Kristyn Marshall. She and her family have been patrons of Hunan since it first opened and were even loyal customers to the Changs’ previous restaurant in Franklin.
“We not only loved their food but also loved interacting with [Jimmy and Rainbow] when we went into the shop to pick up our food,” said Marshall. “They always knew who we were when we called as well as most of our order. They will be greatly missed.”