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Mike Riehls

An old friend says good-bye


June 27, 2013
On Tuesday, the wait time was something no one expected when they called.

Forty-five minutes for take-out was not the norm for Wan Kow Chop Suey, but this week is different.

After the fireworks just down the street on Sunday, June 30, the lights will go off at a Grosse Pointe Woods business that's been through it all since 1958.

Mee Young Yee came to the United States at 13 to support his mother and brother in China. He went on to serve in the U.S. Army for five years and then went back to China to find his wife.

According to his daughter, Margaret Nelson, Yee picked number 44 out of a lineup to be his wife. It was Choung, known as Rose to her customers, her friends for so many years.

They came back to the United States and started a family. They had two children, Philip and Margaret and on Oct. 7, 1958, opened a carry out business that many call the best around.

Margaret started helping at the restaurant when she was 6 years old. She was full-time help by the time she turned 13. After graduating from Grosse Pointe South, Margaret went off to school at the University of Michigan and became an auditor and analyst for GMAC.

In 1990, Mr. Yee died. Rose needed help and Nelson said she was willing to come home and temporarily keep the business going.

"It was going to be for a short time, until Mom retired," Nelson said with a laugh.

"Now we know it's time.

It's just time." Rose often spends 12 hours a day at their Mack Avenue business.

"A lot of them don't know me, they know my mom," Nelson said. "She knows their order when she hears their voice. She knows their children, their grandchildren. She's served generations of families."

Nelson said her parents took great pride in their spotless kitchen and the compliments they received from customers.

In retirement, Nelson said her mom will have a tough time breaking the routine she's grown so used to.

"Our customers have been like family," she said. "My mom has been an amazing woman and she's worked so hard. She deserves some time away. I hope it's a long time."

Her customers wish her the best. The 45-minute wait on Tuesday was her customers' way of saying thank you.

"It's a sad day for Chinese food lovers," said customer Phil Byerly of Grosse Pointe Woods. "Rose was the friendliest owner on Mack and her egg rolls were better than any I have ever had in the world."

Rose, her children and grandchildren will have a change in their lives on Monday morning. And next week, dozens of regulars will miss a familiar friend.

"It's going to be tough on all of us," Nelson said. "Especially on mom. She's had tears in her eyes at times. But she knows it's time.

"We'd like to say thank you to our customers for everything they've given us. There have been so many wonderful people. This last week will be tough."

Wan Kow is located at 20922 Mack. Call (313) 884-7860 to order carry out there one last time.

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