Imagine spending seven days on a boat with little food and water. That’s what Rose and Tom Truong and five of their children did to escape Vietnam in the 1970s. Once they got to New York, the couple opened a restaurant in Johnson City. As our Elyse Mickalonis explains, that popular Vietnamese Restaurant closed its doors Friday night, but for a good reason.
JOHNSON CITY, N.Y. -- The orders were taken, the food was served and many sat down to what would be their last meal at Mekong Restaurant in Johnson City.
"I thought about doing something different, but there’s no reason. I should go back to the things I’ve gotten over and over,” said Jason Shaw, an Endwell resident. “I’m getting the cabbage salad, because no one does fresh cabbage like them."
Mekong Vietnamese Restaurant has been a staple in the community for two decades serving traditional Vietnamese cuisine, but now residents will have to find cabbage salad and other dishes elsewhere.
"Close to three years ago my father had passed away and we closed the restaurant and once he was gone, we decided to reopen it in remembrance of him...now it’s at the point my mom wants to retire and enjoy her life,” said Theresa Truong, Mekong employee.
A life that Rose and Tom Truong wished for their family. They came to America with five of their children in the 1970s, fleeing Vietnam as refugees.
"We had never had restaurant experience before, we kind of fell in love with it,” said Truong. “The people who came in here, we formed close relationships with them."
Those customers feel the same way.
"They're closing for a good reason. Everyone deserves to retire. They had a good business for 20 years,” said Bill Kuhnel, a Deposit resident. “If she thinks it's time, it's time."
The family says they felt at home from the moment they opened their doors in 1993, support they also felt on the night they closed their doors.
"We’ve seen pretty much almost any customer that had come in in the beginning and as well as new customers as well,” said Truong. “We’ve had quite the response from the community. People coming in to get their last favorite meals and to say goodbye to us and wish us their best wishes as well."
A happy ending for a business built on the American Dream.
Truong says customers should keep checking Mekong’s Facebook page for updates on the family and any possible business updates.