The absolute last serving of Ming's famous Chinese chicken salad will be Dec. 28. That's the day that Ming's Restaurant, Palo Alto's oldest and largest Chinese restaurant, will close its doors to make way for an extended stay hotel and a newer, smaller Chinese restaurant.
Located at 1700 Embarcadero Road, the 10,000-square-foot restaurant is finally and firmly scheduled to be demolished after months of delays.
Ming's owner Vicky Ching had expected her restaurant to shutter earlier this year, first in March, then in June, but because of a combination of factors, which included financing and the weather, the closing was delayed until now.
Once the current site is leveled, new construction is expected to take about two years.
Ming's has occupied a corner on Embarcadero Road at East Bayshore Road, just east of U.S. 101, since 1967, but its history in Palo Alto dates back to 1956.
Originally on El Camino Real across from Stanford University, it was a subsidiary of Johnny Kan's famed Chinatown eatery. Many of the original recipes, such as Ming's beef, Chinese chicken salad and Peking duck, survive to this day.
Plans to replace the landmark restaurant have been in the works for years.
"We chose extended-stay over a traditional hotel because we're so close to the freeway and we don't have a downtown address, so we were advised that extended-stay would be the best choice for this location," Ching told the Weekly last year."We're hoping this type of hotel will appeal to a variety of people, including temporary Stanford faculty and Stanford hospital patients and family."
Ching also noted an influx of Asian tourists in this area and said she thinks an extended-stay hotel would be a good option for them. The four-story, 177-room hotel will have underground parking.
Along with the hotel, a new Ming's about one-third the size of the current one will also be developed. Although it will be attached to the hotel, it will be run independently.
"We will have seating for about 150 diners, compared to now, where we have seating for 500," Ching said, adding that the menu will be much smaller and have fusion items. "But we'll still hang on to the old Ming's favorites, like Chinese chicken salad and dim sum dishes."
Ching's decision to move ahead with the major transformation is a direct result of the changing workplace.
"Lunch used to be our biggest business, but things are different now. Our restaurant has suffered because so many companies now provide free food to their employees. Look around us. Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and so many others all offer lunch in their own facilities. So we needed to adjust for that," she said.
Shop Talk: Ming's still open (June 2014)
Shop Talk: Major Shakeup planned at Ming's (March 2013)
New hotel to rise over the Baylands (April 2010)
Review: Dynasty-scale dining (March 2007)