King Fong Cafe

Written By: nppladmin - Feb• 26•22
Originally posted to on February 25, 2022.

Today’s Facebook Friday History looks at a popular restaurant located at 501 N Dewey Streets in downtown North Platte, Nebraska, the King Fong Café! You may know it or remember it as “Salon Nicholas” or “Stephanie’s” or perhaps even the King Fong Café!  

The King Fong Café opened in 1921 and continued to be a popular restaurant in North Platte until about 1960. By 1961, there is no business located at 501 N Dewey according to the 1961 North Platte City Directory.

Below are the managers/proprietors, listed by year, for the King Fong Café:

  • 1921-1931: Harry Chin
  • 1932-1933: Harry Sang Chin, other workers at this establishment: Gim Chinn, Kim Chin, Many Chin, Ping Chin, and Shung Chin
  • 1934-1937: Fung Fong
  • 1938-1949: Harry C Sang
  • 1950-1955: Harry Sang and Henry K. Chinn, co-managers
  • 1956-1957: Harry Sang
  • 1958-1959: Harvey E Sang
  • 1960: Harry C Sang

For a little while, I actually wondered if all the name variations, could actually be the same person.  However, after some deep research and digging, I can inform you, that these are all different individuals. And, because Harry Chinn was the first person to open the King Fong Café, the rest of this post is about him and he led an amazing life.

Harry Chinn (Chinn Tai Sing) was born on April 23, 1894 in San Francisco, California to Yep Sill Chinn (Chinn Sill Yep) and Rose (Wong) Zee. Harry’s parents were from the Mongolian Province of China.

Harry Chinn was 24 years old when he served as a cook for the United States Army during World War I. He enlisted in the Army, 40th Division, 43rd Field Artillery Regiment, and was a cook. Researchers believe that Harry served for two years and was honorably discharged in 1919. World War I soldier information would normally be available to researchers, however, a fire on July 12, 1973 at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) destroyed 80% of their records. The NPRC is part of the National Archives and Records Administration’s (NARA). During the fire, most of the Army records for WWI from 11/1/1912-9/7/1939 were damaged or destroyed. But by reviewing other information, it would seem that Harry remained in California after the war. Harry was involved with the American Legion in most of the communities he lived in.

Harry married Daisy Lang (Lang Kim Linn) on July 29, 1924, in Oakland, California. When they married, Harry was 30 years old and it is believed that Daisy was between 13 and 18 years old. And, there is quite a story behind their marriage.

Daisy was raised by her uncle, Charlie Chew, a restaurant owner.  Harry Chinn was a family friend since Daisy was a child. When Daisy dropped out of school to be married, a social worker believed that Mr. Chew, Daisy’s uncle, had sold her into the slave trade. And it really wasn’t such a far-fetched thought, because the abduction of young Asian women and selling them into the slave trade was becoming increasingly common. The social worker filed a report, which brought Uncle Chew into court to defend his niece’s absence from school.

The juvenile probation case hearing became “sensationalized” in the newspapers when a district attorney took the social worker’s accusations and openly accused Mr. Chew of selling Daisy in exchange for restaurant properties. It was also brought to light that Daisy was only thirteen years old!

Mr. Chew strongly denied the allegations, stating Daisy had been in his charge since she was an infant. He volunteered that she wasn’t in school because she had eloped with Harry Chinn. He insisted that her marriage was what happened, and that she was not being sold into slavery. The marriage certificate from Oakland, California was obtained by the courts, and it was noted that Daisy had acknowledged that she was at least 18 years of age (marriage in California required that both parties be at least 18 years of age).

At the hearing, “Mr. Chew declared that the girl, whose Chinese name is Leong Lee, and Chinn had known each other from childhood and that Chinn had come to Santa Rosa over two weeks ago, after a four years’ absence in the East. He described the girl as practically a Chinese “flapper.” In love with Chinn and determined to marry him despite any advice from her uncle. “He loved Daisy and Daisy loved him. I couldn’t stop them,” was the uncle’s version of the affair. He said the girl was born in Vallejo and that on the death of her mother, Chew’s sister, she had come to Santa Rosa to live with him.

On August 16, 1924, all parties were back in court. It was proved that love, not the slave trade was what took Daisy Lang out of school. Daisy stated that she was 13 years old when she *entered* grammar school (researchers cannot confirm Daisy’s exact age at the time of her marriage) and insisted that she was currently 18 years old. Her headstone birth year is 1906, which would make her 18 years old in 1924.  However, modern times tend to think of “grammar schools” as elementary schools, covering grades 1-6 or 1-8.  So it is unclear of Daisy’s exact age. In the end, the judge withdrew out all the charges, dismissed the case, and let the Harry Chinn and Daisy Lang marriage stand.

On September 11, 1924, the Chinn’s held a “Freedom Celebration” in California to celebrate their love and good outcome of the court.

The Chinn’s went on to have TWELVE children!  And some family obituaries actually indicate that there are 13 or 15 children; however, this researcher could only find/prove twelve.  No matter the number of children, this was a couple that was very blessed.

The Chinn’s children are:

  1. Harry Terrance Chinn, born in Solano, California (1927-1988);
  2. Edith May Chinn, born in North Platte, Nebraska (1928-1975);
  3. Doris A. Chinn, born in North Platte, Nebraska (1919-1946);
  4. Franklin Peter Anthony Chinn, born in Vernon, New York (1932-1997);
  5. Mary L. Chinn, born in New York (1935-unknown);
  6. Albert Eugene Chinn, born in New York (April 3, 1937-2005);
  7. Leonard David Chinn, born in New York (July 24, 1938-2015);
  8. Raymond Edward Chinn, born in Mount Vernon, New York (June 4, 1940-2007)
  9. Patricia (Chinn) Haynes
  10. Charlotte (Chinn) Williams
  11. JoAnn (Chinn) Wiles
  12. Linda Chinn
  13. Richard Chinn

From 1921 to 1931, Harry and Daisy lived in North Platte. Harry started out working in a laundry business, but quickly formed business partnerships with other Asian businessmen and in 1921, Harry Chinn opens the King Fong Café. Around 1928, Harry Chinn cut his ties with the King Fong Café, and invests in a new restaurant called “Golden Eagle Café”.

Sometime in 1931, the Chinn’s leave North Platte and move to New York. He opens up a King Fong Café in Mount Vernon, New York. And then, they eventually move to Wilmington North Carolina, where they live out the rest of their lives.

Harry Chinn died in Jacksonville, North Carolina at age 60. Daisy passed away in 1986 at age 80. Both are buried in Wilmington National Cemetery due to his service in World War I.

We hope you enjoyed our North Platte history!

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