After more than four decades of feeding ample family-style servings of Chinese American cuisine to Chicago diners, the owners of Mee Mah Restaurant in Sauganash on the city’s North Side, are ready to retire.
Benjamin Wong, son of owners Bill and Sandy Wong, announced last week in a news release also shared on Facebook that the family had decided to close the restaurant and that its last day of service would be Sunday, December 10.
“We want to express our deepest gratitude to all our customers who come from near and far and supported us through many generations,” he writes. “My parents’ decision to close was not made lightly and comes with mixed emotions as they reflect on the countless memories created within the Mee Mah walls.”
Bill and Sandy Wong, who opened Mee Mah in 1982, are part of an extended family of Chinese restaurant owners in Chicago. Bill Wong is the brother of the late Helen Moy, who owned shuttered icon Kow Kow (first in West Ridge and later Lincolnwood) with husband Tai-On Moy, and another one of his sisters owned Chinatown’s flagship Three Happiness restaurant at the corner of Wentworth and Cermak.
Despite its location outside the cultural enclave, Mee Mah attracted generations of patrons with its prominent sign West Peterson Avenue, and a reputation for serving some of Chicago’s biggest and best egg rolls. After Kow Kow shuttered in 2015, Mee Mah became the sole spot where bereft fans could find its twice-fried egg rolls, made with pork, shrimp, hot mustard, and, in a local twist, peanut butter.
A time capsule of the era in which it debuted, Mee Mah’s dining room has remained largely unchanged throughout its 41 years in business, decorated with wood-paneled walls (some lined with mirrors), pink laminate tables, and floral upholstery-backed booths with flowery matching trim where the walls meet the ceiling. In the eyes of its fans, some of whom beat a path to the restaurant over the weekend for one last plate of egg foo young or Mongolian beef, it was a charming and nostalgic haven for big family dinners — and among those who don’t celebrate Christmas, the site of an annual December 24 pilgrimage.
Though supporters on social media were sad about the restaurant’s closure, many also expressed excitement for Bill and Sandy Wong, wishing them well in the next phase of their lives. “Even though I live in Georgia, I still haven’t been able to find as good Chinese as I had at Mee Mah!!,” a long-distance fan writes on Facebook. “My best wishes are with your parents as they enjoy their very well-earned retirement.”