Route 1 in Saugus isn’t what it used to be. The Hilltop Steakhouse is long gone, and that way-too-big Chinese restaurant, Weylu’s, met a similar fate. But despite all the changes along that heavily traveled road, the Kowloon Restaurant has maintained its presence and continues to thrive under the ownership of the Wong family. In recognition of their success and dedication to the family business, the siblings who own Kowloon — Andy, Bob, Linda, Lisa, Donald, and Stanley Wong — will be inducted into the Massachusetts Restaurant Association Hall Of Fame on Nov. 16.
Much has changed since Kowloon first opened. The members of the Wong family have not only witnessed mega-size restaurants like the Hilltop close, they’ve also seen corporate chains popping up everywhere.
“Unfortunately, now it’s all conglomerates,” said Stanley Wong. “We’re like ‘The Last of the Mohicans’ right now, and we’re still family-run.”
Stanley said the history of Kowloon goes back to 1950, when his grandparents opened the Mandarin House, a small restaurant on Route 1 that could seat about 40 to 50 people. In 1958, his parents took over the business and two years later turned it into the Kowloon Restaurant. Over time, the Wong family added on to the original Kowloon building, and increased its capacity to 1,200 seats, making it one of the biggest restaurants — and most recognizable landmarks — on Route 1.
This isn’t the first time the Massachusetts Restaurant Association has honored the Wongs: In 2001, the association inducted their parents — Bill and Madeline — into the Hall of Fame.
Now it’s their children’s turn.
The second generation of Kowloon ownership will be feted at the Nov. 16 Hall of Fame dinner at the Westin Hotel in Waltham. Cocktails are scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m.; dinner and program follow at 7 p.m. Tickets are $125 per person, and tables of 10 cost $1,100.
“We’re very appreciative,” said Stanley Wong. “My mother and father went into the Hall of Fame years ago. For us to be thought of in the same manner, we’re very grateful for that. We’re just following in their footsteps. It’s an honor for all of us.”