How a Little Bit of Kindness Made a Restaurant
Welcome to our new blog for Asia Garden Chinese & Japanese Restaurant. We are really excited about bringing unique stories to you about our history, people who work with us and anything else we think you would be interested in reading. We invite you to grab a hot tea, sit back and read through what we’ve written to get to know us a little better.
We are one of the last family owned businesses here in Jackson, TN. It all started when the Yeh family moved from Taiwan to the U.S. and worked hard to save up enough money to buy a Chinese restaurant. The family was made up of Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents, Moms, Dads and their kids who would all go to various universities and are spread out all over the U.S. now. When picking where they would buy, they made a list of all the places that looked most promising and decided to visit each one then decide. They never made it past Jackson, TN. I’ve been told it was because someone in the family got a flat tire in Jackson while looking at the restaurant then a local stopped immediately to help them and made sure the tire was fixed and that they were ok.
The kindness of that one person is why Asia Garden is here today. Everyone decided right then and there that this was the type of place where they could raise their kids and be surrounded by a caring community.
They bought the restaurant in 1985 and it was the only place to get good Chinese food here in Jackson, TN until the late 1990’s. It was normal for customers to walk in and there would be one of the kids doing his/her homework, rolling silverware or helping out. Everyone in the family was involved in the business and that’s what made it so welcoming. When you walked in they knew your name, asked about your family and already knew what you wanted to eat. They all took pleasure in serving anyone who walked in the door.
All the kids grew up and most of them moved off. The generation that started the restaurant was ready to start the next chapter of their lives with grandbabies and traveling. But, one of the kids came back after college and was crazy enough to want to take over the business himself and keep it going. I’m talking about Eddie Yeh, he’s the son of Kathy and Ko-Pang Yeh who were one of the founding family members. When Eddie took over, the business was going through a tough time and he was looking to revitalize it. First, in 2006, he re-modeled the entire restaurant. Where there were low ceiling tiles and typical Chinese red and gold décor, now there was open space with wood tones and neutral paint colors with super tall ceilings and a bar was added too. From the outside you’d never know it had changed until you walked in and your mouth would drop open.
An opportunity he couldn’t pass up presented itself in 2014 when Eddie decided to add full Japanese and Sushi Roll menus to his already expansive Chinese Menu. Alfredo Castano was a premier sushi chef in town and was looking to branch out. Eddie modified the bar he’d put in so that sushi could be made in addition to drinks. The restaurant was already delivering Chinese food but Eddie was the first in Jackson to figure out how to deliver sushi too. It was tough figuring out how to produce so many different cuisines well from the space they were in but Eddie kept at it and Jackson, TN took notice.
Another opportunity presented itself in 2018 as a larger space became available in the same Hamilton Hills shopping center they were located in but just across the parking lot. It had become apparent that to keep expanding the business and to have space for customers to enjoy eating that Asia Garden needed to move. So in August 2018, Eddie shut the business down for 3 days and then re-opened in the new location with everything that was important moved across the parking lot, new equipment and new processes set in place.
We currently have three expansive menus of Chinese food, Japanese food and Sushi Rolls and are always trying to up our game and use the best ingredients we can find to delight our customers. We make almost all our sauces from scratch, have never had a buffet and make our dishes to order so that they are fresh, piping hot and ready to eat! We’ve come a long way but what we still hold dear is the community that embraced the Yeh family and that we still enjoy serving our customers.