Ending a golden era, Calgary’s Golden Inn closes after 45 years

Click to play video: 'Golden Inn, golden era: Chinatown mainstay closes after more than 4 decades'
Golden Inn, golden era: Chinatown mainstay closes after more than 4 decades
Watch: The Golden Inn restaurant in Calgary’s Chinatown is shutting down after first opening in 1977. As Tracy Nagai reports, the late-night institution will be missed by many, but hungry patrons still have a chance to get a piping-hot plate of food before the end of August. – Aug 5, 2022

After opening its doors in 1977, Calgary’s Golden Inn Restaurant has announced it will be shutting down for good at the end of the month.

“It’s definitely bittersweet. It’s been an emotional roller coaster, but it’s time,” said Golden Inn co-owner Raymond Lau. “Me and my two brothers, we grew up here and we spent all our free time here.”

Lau said his father, John Lau, trained as a chef in Hong Kong before moving to Vancouver and then eventually Calgary.

“It’s truly his passion and he truly loved what he did,” Raymond said. “He would work 365 days a year and as a Chinese restaurant you’re open on Christmas, New Year’s Day, all that kind of stuff. Even on the odd day off, he would want to eat here and come hang out here.”

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The Golden Inn is well known for its heaping plates of delicious food and for being open late at night, serving customers until 4 a.m. on weekends.

“If you’ve never been here on the weekends, it’s pretty awesome, it’s different,” Raymond said. “That’s what my dad and his group of friends would always do. They would always go and play some mahjong, and they would come together and have a place to eat.

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“At that time there was no where else open, so we opened late and it caught on. After going to the casino, clubbing and partying people came here to eat.

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And Raymond said they’ve had some high profile customers throughout the years, including politicians and professional athletes.

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“I’m a big Calgary Flames fan so Mike Vernon is a regular here,” he said. “(He has) a table actually, he always sits there and always eats there.”

While the Golden Inn has had many ups, there have also been some tough periods, including the 2013 floods which saw parts of Calgary completely covered in water.

“The restaurant is only a block away from the Bow River, so we were closed for about six months,” Raymond said. “That time was probably the first time I realized how meaningful and impactful the restaurant was.

“A lot of people came down to actually help out physically, throw away rotted food and tear up the carpets. That was the first time I was like ‘Hey, we actually have something special here’.”

While there’s a number of factors that have triggered the Lau family to close Golden Inn, Raymond said the main reason is to allow his parents to enjoy all their hard work.

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“My parents are in their 70s and 60s, so they’re kind of at that retirement age,” he explained. “Owning a restaurant isn’t easy. So it kind of gives them some time to look forward to the next phase in life and give them some balance.”

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Raymond said Golden Inn will officially close it’s doors on August 27. Until then, customers can enjoy delicious Chinese cuisine until the wee hours.

“Come, have your last meal with us and help us say goodbye.”

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