Open ‘House’: Roseville institution is back in business


House of Wong, a Roseville institution dating back to 1958, reopened its doors Aug. 1. The Chinese-American restaurant closed in January and relocated a few doors down within Roseville Center, at the intersection of Larpenteur and Lexington avenues. (photo: Bridget Kranz)

House of Wong’s owners kept the menu unchanged and the décor largely the same in the new location. The restaurant’s emblematic booths were updated with darker wood, but otherwise regulars will notice few changes. (photo: Bridget Kranz)

Hopeful diners waited to be seated at House of Wong’s soft opening on Aug. 1. Lines for both dine-in and take-out were almost out the door, which manager Renee Proue said was unexpected but exciting. (photo: Bridget Kranz)

Bridget Kranz
staff writer

Folks from Roseville and around came out in droves Aug. 1 to get their fried rice fix at the reopening of House of Wong, the Chinese-American restaurant that has become an institution since its founding in 1958.

The restaurant had been closed since January, relocating a few doors down in Roseville Center to accommodate the addition of an Aldi grocery store.  

Manager Renee Proue said many regulars were anxious it wouldn’t be coming back at all, especially as unexpected delays pushed the new location’s opening date from late spring to late summer.

By August, Proue said everyone had been waiting so long that they all had the same idea on opening night. 

“We expected to be busy, but not so overwhelmingly so,” she said. 

Proue called Aug. 1 the restaurant’s “soft opening,” saying there will likely be a larger celebration in September once the initial kinks have been worked out.

Many of those waiting to be seated for dinner on Aug. 1 said that they had been coming to House of Wong since the 1960s. 

“We had food on the table at home,” said one woman — when she found out about the opening earlier that evening on Facebook, she said she dropped everything to come in for dinner.

Another woman, waiting in an equally long take-out line, said picking up House of Wong for family gatherings has been a decades-long tradition. 

Keeping up with regulars is part of what pushed Proue to stay on as manager after her family — who founded House of Wong — sold the restaurant roughly 10 years ago. 

“I just love to be able to chat with them,” she explained. “It’s really nice to see them again after so many months.”

Asked how the restaurant became such a community institution, Proue praised her parents. 

“They tried to design a menu with tastes for [the neighborhood’s] palette, which is why such a large portion of our menu is American classics,” she explained.

 

Old and new
The menu and the décor have remained largely unchanged in the new space. Customers will still find the unique, three-part menu with Chinese, American and Italian classics. 

In addition to cream cheese wontons and chow mein, diners can order fried chicken and spaghetti. Every meal still comes with a piece of pie for dessert. 

In terms of the layout, the restaurant still has its emblematic two-person booths, tucked along the walls and now done in slightly more modern-looking, darker wood.

“The layout was the choice of the current owner,” said Proue. “He wanted to keep everything as similar to the old space as he could. I think maybe because the workflow is really familiar to everybody.”

Many of the old staff stuck around through the move, though Proue said they also had to do a fair amount of hiring,

Although the crowds have tapered off since early August, she said the restaurant is still fairly busy and that it’s been a bit difficult to train-in new servers during the dinner rushes.

“It’s getting a little more doable,” she said, adding the new servers are learning quickly on the job. “We’re hoping that we can get a grand opening event in the middle of September, when we’re a little more organized.”

For updates on the planned celebration, customers can look to House of Wong’s Facebook page. In the meantime, the neighborhood favorite is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., for both dine-in and take-out at Roseville Center, located at the corner of Larpenteur and Lexington avenues.

 

– Bridget Kranz can be reached at bkranz@lillienews.com or 651-748-7825.

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