For Tony Yu and Kimberly He, opening a restaurant in Sidney was something of a homecoming.
The pair are the owners of the Maple Palace restaurant, which recently opened at the west end of Beacon Avenue in the former home of the Catalina Grill.
Residents of Sidney and the Saanich Peninsula might be familiar with the Maple Palace — Yu’s parents opened the original restaurant in 1993 on Fifth Street in downtown Sidney, where Monk Office is located today.
“It was a very popular restaurant,” Yu recalled. “The entire building was built by my family and the interior was full of maple furnishings. It was a very special place.”
In 2007, he continued, his parents decided to retire. The restaurant closed and the furnishings were spread to the wind. Now that the restaurant has made a comeback, Yu said he’s searching high and low for some of the original interior decorations, chairs and tables.
Yu said he moved to China to work for a few years after the family business closed. When he and his wife Kimberly returned, he found that many people asked him if the restaurant was coming back as well.
“People just seemed to miss it so much,” he said. “So, we decided to do something special and provide a high-end Chinese restaurant.”
They have redecorated the space, with He painting various scenes from some of China’s most popular tourist attractions. When you walk in, the Great Wall looms large, with depictions of the scenery and culture of China.
He’s background as an artist is also evident on the exterior of the building.
“We want people to have the feeling that they are walking into China. These murals, they are some of our favourites too.”
Maple Palace has been open for only two weeks as they put the finshing touches on the restaurant. An offical grand opening event is in the works.
Yu said they hope to offer customers a glimpse of China in the décor and the food.
“People will be interested in seeing Maple Palace coming back,” he said.
“That’s what I’ve been hearing every day.”