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Little has gone the way Janet Yu expected in trying to reopen her Hollywood East dim-sum parlor in the Westfield Shopping Center in Wheaton.
The owner quickly discovered that the new space, a former restaurant in the mall, was not suited to her needs, at least not as currently equipped. The duct work needed to be replaced. The gas lines needed to be upgraded to handle Hollywood East’s powerful woks. The bathrooms needed to be expanded.
The whole space, in short, was in dire need of an overhaul, save for the air conditioning and the ceiling, Yu tells Y&H this afternoon. “We gutted the whole place, and we had to start all over,” she says.
The unexpected build-out has, of course, delayed Hollywood East’s expected reopening date following the restaurant’s unceremonious ousting from its former location on University Boulevard in Wheaton. The dim-sum operation was supposed to celebrate its grand reopening in August. Now, Yu says, she’s looking at a soft reopening on Monday, Dec. 14.
Even more painful is the price of the upgrades. Yu says the costs are “almost $200,000 more than I expected.” She tried to turn to the banks for a loan but found that path blocked.
“It’s not good for anybody,” Yu says about bank loans. “Nobody wants to fund restaurants, even SBA.”
The good news is that the new Hollywood East will be about 700 square feet larger than the old space, and it will be much greener, with energy-saving lights and wind-powered energy. The reopening will also mean good news for many of the former employees who have been not-so-patiently waiting for the restaurant’s re-emergence.
“Some of them are just collecting unemployment,” Yu says of her employees. “Some have been trying to find part time jobs.”
Yu is hoping Hollywood East passes all the necessary inspections for the Dec. 14 opening. That way, employees can get acquainted with the new space — and reacquainted with the menu, which will remain the same. “Then we can have a big Christmas party for customers,” Yu says.