When I think of Chinese restaurants in America, I always think it’s a relatively newer trend from the 50s or 60s. That is why I was surprised when I found this advertising postcard for the King Joy Lo restaurant in Chicago postmarked in 1910. A quick Google search on when Chinese food became popular in America revealed a Time article that discusses the rise of “Chinese” food in America:”The turn of the 20th century saw the emergence of Chop Suey joints as hip and affordable places for young urbanites to spend a night out. Like most popular Chinese dishes in the United States, this particular mélange of meat, egg and vegetable wasn’t actually Chinese…It wasn’t until the 1960s and 1970s that the United States got its first taste of “authentic” Chinese cuisine.”
“The Wonderful Mandarin Restaurant” was on Randolph street across from the Garrick Theatre, both of which are no longer in existence. A Tribune article from December 1906, published two days after the restaurant’s opening, called King Joy Lo “The Finest Chinese-American Restaurant in the World.” Reading the article gives you an idea of how fancy the inside of this three-story restaurant was, with mother of pearl inlay on the walls and refrigerators in the kitchen!
“The most magnificent Oriental Restaurant ever built in America, costing $125,000. An American and Chinese Restaurant, serving both kinds of dishes. Tables can be reserved by phone or otherwise.”