end of an era in ardmore

Thursday marked an end of an era officially when the Hunan name came off of the facade at 47 East Lancaster Ave. in Ardmore, PA.

At some point after Covid, one of my favorite places in the whole world, Hunan restaurant in Ardmore, closed their doors .

I had been going here since I was 11 or 12 and like everyone else I think the pandemic has just worn them out. It is no fun being a restaurant. First you couldn’t be open. Then you could only be takeout. Then you could re-open but a lot of places found their employees scattered.

The family that owned this restaurant (the Foos) are family friends to me and we had so many celebrations there, My sister and I used to have birthday parties there upstairs when we were younger, and so on. And for many years up until A couple of years before they closed, many of my birthdays were still at Hunan.

I was gladly part of the Save Ardmore Coalition when Ardmore was threatened by eminent domain for private gain, and it was specifically because of Hunan and the Foos I got involved in the first place. I still have a very distinct memory of the Friday evening. I went into Hunan for dinner, and Betty came up to our table and said with tears in her eyes “They want to take our building.” Betty then asked me to get involved with a new group that was forming, and I said yes.

I can tell you that living in Chester County sadly made this restaurant just far enough away for weekly visits, and Ardmore has the worst parking ever thanks to Lower Merion Township.

This family however prevailed through everything. And for 50 years they served us their food, some of the best food imaginable. I used to love when Chris their son and chef would let us order things he was trying out off the menu. This is a place where every time you went in the door it was one of the nicest vibes possible. Everyone was welcomed whether it was the first time or the 500th time they had been in.

From the time I was a kid, there was nothing more fun than introducing new people to Hunan restaurant in Ardmore.

Also, once upon a time, Betty taught cooking classes. My mother and I took one. It was awesome.

Dumplings. The dumplings here, whether they be regular, special like curry or something else were legendary and no one will ever beat Hunan in the dumpling department. And the sweet and sour soup was the best there is. And then all the other things like the dishes with duck, or dishes made with little tiny, fresh sardines, or really spicy, minced pork with peppers that were hot enough to make the roof of your mouth come off.

And something else you always had to have were the Chinese vegetables. It was what was seasonal at the time, and always delicious. In the vegetable department, the spicy string beans, and the hot and sweet cabbage, which was essentially pickled, were amazing.

I remember when we were in the restaurant on my birthday in 2014 when the actress Kate Flannery stopped by. She had worked in Hunan as a waitress when I was in high school or somewhere around that time.

Every time you went into Hunan, no matter where you had been, it was like coming home. And we were treated like family.

There are so many memories for me, associated with Hunan from all different stages of my life. And that is the way it was in this restaurant for so many.

The Foo family also survived a fire after surviving Lower Merion Township’s failed attempt at eminent domain for private gain.

If I back up to the days of eminent domain in Ardmore for a moment, we had most of our meetings on the second floor of Hunan. And Betty and E Ni always fed us. We even introduced Congressman James Sensenbrenner to Hunan once upon a time.

When we were fighting eminent domain for private game against Lower Merion Township, then US Congressman for the sixth district, Jim Gerlach, bought Congressman James Sensenbrenner to town.
Getting national attention on our
“local issue” that is still a national
problem really helped.

After eminent domain, and after the fire, Hunan rebuilt. An architect who was part of Save Ardmore Coalition helped them create an updated look. The updated Hunan was gorgeous and the walls for the most part we’re lined with Dr. Foo’s artwork.

It was July 2010 when they re-opened. And it was packed and beautiful. I still have photos so here I’ll share some:

So the sign coming off the building this is so much the end of an era. And it’s not just for those of us who loved this restaurant, it’s an end of an era in Ardmore as well because this was a business that stuck with this town through thick and thin, quite literally.

I know businesses can’t stay in a place forever. And I actually accept that, but this was a place that was just so special. So thank you to the Foo family for the memories and for feeding us for decades I hope whoever goes in here does well now that the building is sold.

Hunan was one of those places that even if you didn’t live in the area anymore, whenever you were in town, you would come back and go there. I secretly wish that they would create a cookbook. It wouldn’t be the same as eating there, but it would be something so worth having in a cookbook library in your home.

Thanks for stopping by.