By Amie Sites and Sarah Einselen Pharos-Tribune
LOGANSPORT — Memories, family and good food are just a few of the things created in China Lane Restaurant over the past 27 years.
After being closed for four weeks, China Lane will reopen today with a new look and owner, as Kan and Boon “Joe” Lee retire. Mellany He, a family friend, is the new owner.
Kan and Joe Lee founded the restaurant in October 1986 soon after moving to Logansport from Chicago. Their oldest of five children was about 5 years old at the time.
All their children grew up in Logansport, Kan Lee said, graduating from Logansport High School. The Lee parents, too, consider themselves Loganites.
“We went from [knowing] nobody in town to having close friends,” said Kan Lee.
As Boon Lee silently teared up, Kan Lee expressed her thanks to many friends who have helped out at the restaurant over the years.
If the couple had it their way, added Kan Lee, they’d keep running the restaurant for many more years.
“We don’t want to” retire, she explained. “Retirement is like 65, but we have to do it early” in consideration of Boon Lee’s health.
“The new owner is a really good friend of ours,” said Boon Lee.
The new owner’s father is godfather to one of the Lee children, and the two families have worked together in the past on remodeling the restaurant.
Mellany He, who is from Chicago, said she has been able to observe and work closely with the Lee family.
“It’s amazing how they handle the business,” Mellany He said. “It’s impressive.”
Although the ownership is changing, the food will stay 100 percent the same, Mellany He said. The restaurant will also have a fresh, new look when it reopens, she said.
“I hope to see old customers come back to visit and eat,” Mellany He said. “I want to get to know the customers and provide good service, food.”
The Lees won’t completely leave the restaurant, Kan Lee said. Boon Lee wants to check up on the restaurant as often as possible and Kan Lee will help out on a part-time basis.
But they do intend to take it easy and enjoy two grandchildren they await adding to the family.
The Lee family have become close friends with many in the community, including Ralph Clark.
Clark, Logansport, said he has known Kan and Joe Lee for 27 years and has helped them in the restaurant since it opened. Over the years, they have become excellent friends, he said.
“They’ve done a really good job,” Clark said. “I hate to see them go [from the restaurant], but I’ll be seeing them. I know the new owner will do a good job.”
This won’t be Mellany He’s first experience owning a restaurant. She owned a Chinese restaurant in Chicago for nine years, she said.
She will travel to Chicago once a week to visit family, including her four daughters, because they won’t move to Logansport until the following school year. She is excited for the challenge.
“I would love to have feedback from customers about what they like and don’t like so I have an idea of what I can improve,” Mellany He said. “I hope to have a good relationship with the community.”
Hours 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday