UPDATE: Dee’s clarified to say only the dining room is closing. The delivery and take-out operations will continue. Revised story follows.
Dee’s Mandarin & Sushi Lounge, a 35-year-old Chinese-American restaurant in Lincoln Park, is closing its dining room as take out and deliveries will continue. Open since 1983, owner Dee Kang and her staff served Chinese food in an upscale manner that was unusual for Americans at the time. The ‘80s were a realm for smaller Chinese spots that specialized in take out.
Dee’s last day will be New Year’s Eve at 1114 W. Armitage Avenue, according to a Facebook post. Kang is shuttering the restaurant to free up more family time.
This is Dee’s second location as it debuted around the corner at 2010 N. Sheffield Avenue. Kang’s brother took over that space to open Sai Cafe, a Japanese restaurant that continues to serve sushi and more. Dee’s moved into its current space in 1986.
Though Americans have started to enjoy spicier Sichuan food as they’ve become more familiar with regional Chinese cooking, Mandarin and Cantonese food opened those gateways and Dee’s excelled with items like moo shu pork, Mongolian beef, and spare ribs. Walking into Dee’s may feel like a time capsule, but its menu evolved. Eventually, Dee’s added sushi. Customers can even find poke on the current menu.
Kang was born in Korea and is of Chinese heritage. She also spent time living in Japan. She opened Dee’s when she was 26, five years after immigrating to America. This year has been challenging, according to her Facebook post, as Kang’s husband passed away and her mother had been diagnosed with cancer.
Despite those hurdles, Kang rejoiced about running the restaurant and seeing her customers: “Throughout the years, my customers have become my family. I have seen generations of families come in, entertained countless kids while their parents ate, and even facilitated marriage proposals by placing engagement rings in fortune cookies,” she wrote via Facebook.
She continued: “Thank you for making Dee’s part of your life. You’ll still see me answering phones at the front desk, so please stop in and say ‘Hi.’”
Dee’s is a neighborhood lynchpin and now customers have about a month to visit. Dee’s closes its dining room on December 31, delivery and take out will continue. Read Kang’s full post below.