A 'joy'-ful reopening in Bellows Falls
BELLOWS FALLS — The joy is back at the Joy Wah.
The venerable Chinese restaurant has reopened after a three-month hiatus, and longtime owner Chi Chiang "Tim" Hom said it has been a bit overwhelming.
Hom, 71, said he and two former longtime employees, Hai Qing Tang and his son, Gary Tang, have reopened the restaurant, and Hom said he would be helping his new partners for about a year before resuming his retirement.
No sooner had the ceremonial ribbon been cut Sunday than the community responded.
"We got very busy, very busy," he said.
Hom and his wife, Chiu Kwan Hom, have partnered with the Tangs to reopen the restaurant, which operated for about 13 months under the name Golden Fortune. Both Tangs used to work for the Homs at the Joy Wah — Gary Tang as a waiter and Haiqing Tang as a chef. The new business owners, doing business as Hom & Tang Inc., are due to get their liquor license from the town of Rockingham Tuesday evening.
The restaurant reopened on Sunday, with a formal ribbon cutting and the unveiling of a bright yellow and orange sign with the old name.
He said the restaurant staff has been overwhelmed by the local response, either with people coming out for their popular Sunday buffet, or ordering take out food.
Hom said there were no significant changes to the Joy Wah's original menu, and the longtime favorites of crab rangoons and General Tso's Chicken, and boneless chicken are back. Prices have remained the same, he said, and a couple of new dishes have been added.
Gary Tang will be the restaurant's manager. He was busy preparing the restaurant Tuesday morning for its opening at 11:30 a.m., vacuuming the floor. His father was busy in the kitchen.
"The past two days are just crazy," said Gary Tang. "There have been a lot of customers."
"He should do a good job," Hom said of his new partners, who will eventually take over the restaurant.
Hom and his wife remain the landlords of the business, and they live upstairs from the restaurant.
Tang said he and his father worked at other Chinese restaurants after Hom closed the Joy Wah, which reopened under new management under the name the Golden Fortune.
Hom said "Joy Wah" means 'Happy China,' "Or Happy Chinese," he said. The Homs, along with partners, have operated Chinese restaurants in Windham County for more than 42 years, with their first restaurant, the Jade Wah, in Brattleboro.
Bellows Falls Village President Deborah Wright said the community had been waiting for months for the restaurant to reopen under the old owners, the Homs.
"Everyone missed them and their food," she said.
"People feel a connection with the Homs," said Wright. "He's done a lot of things for the community," she said.
Hom's personal touch with his customers has always meant a lot to people, she said.
Hom said the restaurant's reopening is good for the town, and he said the restaurant attracts diners from 50 miles away.
The restaurant, which has been in Bellows Falls for 31 years, closed abruptly in June, after Vermont Health Department officials found that Xuke Wu, the previous operator, had slaughtered a pig on the premises, without any state permits. Hom quickly revoked his rental agreement, and the restaurant closed until this weekend.
Hom said the Tangs would eventually take over the restaurant, probably in a year.
"I cannot work forever," he said.
Reopening, he said, has been an emotional welcoming.
"When I reopen, I really appreciate all their kindness," he said.
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