Melissa Ho, Yolanda Wang and Their Families

Interview by Mary Stucky:

Teahouse ambience:

For many immigrants from China, running a restaurant has often been the only way for families to earn a living. The first Chinese restaurants started in California in the mid 1800s. Now go to any city or small town in the U-S. Chances are you’ll find a Chinese restaurant. Chinese restaurant families are an American tradition. After the 1965 Immigration act, new arrivals from Hong Kong, Taiwan and China followed the path of immigrants before them, starting family restaurants. In Plymouth, Minnesota, near Minneapolis, two sisters run The Tea House Restaurant. Yolanda Wang and Melissa Ho arrived in the late 80’s from Anqing, [ahn-ching] in east central China. The sisters had completed college when they arrived, along with their mother, father and four other sisters. Sadly, within a year of arriving, their father died of cancer. Yolanda and Melissa found that running a Chinese restaurant was their best hope of earning a living.