Chinese Star owner to lose livelihood with closing of restaurant
After serving the UH community for 26 years, the Chinese Star closed its doors Saturday.
News of the closing came in October when the University of Houston announced that it would not renew the restaurant’s lease once it expired at the end of the semester. Priscilla Yang, the restaurant’s owner and operator, tried to fight the University’s decision to no avail.
“Usually we have quarterly meetings (with the University),” Yang said. “This year, they scheduled three appointments for me but they canceled.”
According to a statement issued to the restaurant’s Facebook page, the University has cited the condition of the building as a reason for its closing.
Yang, a Taiwanese immigrant, said her daughter and neighbor wrote to the University but received no response. According to the statement, the University canceled a meeting scheduled for Dec. 7 in which Yang had hoped to make her case for remaining open.
“I can’t talk to anybody,” Yang said.
Last month, students started an online petition in an attempt to save Chinese Star.
“I figured it was the least that I could do,” biology senior and petition organizer Mohammed Hamid said. “This was the first place I ate in on campus. I immediately felt comfortable there and became a regular customer.”
The petition, which was signed by more than 2,000 people, gained the attention of local media.
“I didn’t expect local news to cover the story,” Hamid said. “I didn’t know that the restaurant had such a big influence on the city. I realized that this was bigger than the University, bigger than just the student population.”
Students are mourning the loss of the restaurant and reflecting on Yang’s friendliness through the years on social media.
“It’s sad to see the restaurant go,” broadcast journalism senior Tobechi Oparah said. “I ate there almost daily during the summer. I have a lot of great memories associated with that place.”
While some students will lose their favorite on-campus eatery, Yang stands to lose her livelihood.
“I don’t know what’s next,” Yang said. “Right now, I’m 62 years old and I have to go looking for a job.”
The University has stated on several occasions that it intends to use the space to explore new options that will improve the University’s food service program. According to the restaurant’s statement, no official decision has been made of the future tenancy of the space.
University administration did not respond to requests for comment.