Rarely in life do you find that "perfect" restaurant. Imperial was mine. I've been going there as long as I can remember. I knew the staff very well and they knew me. They had been with me through college, through marriage, through divorce, through jobs, through illnesses...basically, just through life. They knew my family and friends and we all ate there together. The chef would see me coming and smile really big and just say, "Mongolian Beef!". He would always make sure there was plenty and it was fresh just for me.
It wasn't a popular place in town, mostly because many years ago when it first opened, it was different...not your typical McDonald's type Chinese. People went once, hated it, and never went back. But, like any restaurant, it went through changes and got much better over time. I tried to change people's opinion and did managed to make a few converts over the years, but never enough to keep them busy.
It was the only Chinese restaurant in town that not only dominated the dishes with meat, but didn't charge you extra if you got only meat from the buffet (and I'm all about the cow!). They knew how to brew oolong right (a huge compliment from a tea snob). And most importantly, their fortune cookies were never stale (and how many of us have had to put up with stale cookies?).
I knew the owner was retiring, but we had high hopes that someone would just continue as ever (as did the employees). He didn't want to sell, he wanted to just lease it out, with business remaining the same. Alas, apparently it wasn't meant to be. I had planned on stopping by tonight and picking up a take away, but got the shock of my life when it was void of it's former glory and was nothing but a hollowed out shell!
So what do we do now? There is no place in town that even comes close. No place that I will ever be able to go into by myself to either get take away or to even sit at a table and enjoy a meal. A place were the wonderful people who work there ask me about my day, about my head, even about my Mother and actually care when I tell them. And I really don't mind when they sit at my table with me just to chat. A place where Tony and I can go and just enjoy ourselves, spending twenty minutes eating and three hours just talking, and not have to worry about getting run off.
I'm trying to look to the positive side, it gives us a chance to find a new favorite place, but I don't want a new favorite place! I want my old one back!!
Imperial Restaurant, Cindy, Gracie, Peter and gang we'll miss you!