Business Beat: A new home for Orient House

07/12/2014 4:09 PM

07/12/2014 4:10 PM

I have some good news to share this week, though it sounds like a good number of people have already heard: The Orient House, which burned down last year, has reopened in a new location.

The restaurant opened in Roseburg Square on Wednesday, the day after it passed its health inspection. It was intended to be a soft opening, said Allen Yi, who owns the Orient House with his wife, Changyih. They only mentioned it to a few people, hoping to have a chance to work out any last-minute wrinkles. It didn’t quite work out that way.

“In less than 10 minutes, we were packed,” Changyih Li said.

“It was overwhelming,” her husband said, smiling.

Allen Li’s parents opened The Orient House 30 years ago, at one point operating locations on Tully Road and McHenry Avenue. When they retired, they sold the McHenry Avenue location and the younger Lis took over running the other one.

But on Valentine’s Day 2013, a fire struck in the middle of the night. Though firefighters tried to contain the blaze quickly, it did extensive damage to the restaurant. Originally, the Lis said, they hoped to reopen in the same location, which is across the street from Modesto Junior College. But that didn’t work out when repairs took longer than expected, so they started looking for a new spot.

“We didn’t want our customers to have to wait longer,” Changyih Li said.

Roseburg Square was a natural pick.

“The shopping center approached us five to seven years ago,” Changyih Li said. It was important to the Lis that they remain in the same general neighborhood, accessible to all of their customers, which often include Modesto Junior College students.

The couple put the downtime to good use. Changyil Li said she traveled to Taiwan, Singapore and Thailand to look into what was new in Asian restaurants and to get ideas for new menu items. At the same time, they wanted to make sure their customers felt at home. To that end, they are using the old menus, complete with an outdated location on them.

“I need to get some new ones printed up,” Changyih Li said. While they value their past, the Lis are looking to the future, she said: “Hopefully, we will have another few dacades here.”

Elsewhere around the Business Beat

More good news for another popular Modesto restaurant: Verona Cucina Italia in McHenry Village is commemorating 15 years in business.

Owners Edwarda and Jaime Aldrete said they have a party planned on Wednesday to celebrate with their customers, with several special offers throughout the day. The Modesto Symphony Youth Orchestra will perform and a portion of the day’s proceeds will be donated to the organization.

Verona is at 1700 McHenry Ave. Call (209) 549-8876.

And finally, Stanislaus Surgical Hospital also is celebrating an anniversary. On Tuesday, the medical facility will turn 30, said Ty Hubbard, director of human resources and marketing.

It’s good to hear of local businesses achieving success year after year. And, of course, rising from the ashes in some cases.

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