Business & Real Estate

Why venerable West Sacramento dim sum restaurant is closing

Chew Lam and his wife have run King’s Restaurant in West Sacramento for the past 57 years. The eatery will close on Sunday.
Chew Lam and his wife have run King’s Restaurant in West Sacramento for the past 57 years. The eatery will close on Sunday. Sacramento Bee file photo

King’s Restaurant, the West Sacramento eatery specializing in dim sum and with roots dating back to 1960, will close its doors at the close of business on Sunday.

For decades, the restaurant at 1500 W. Capitol Ave. has been run by China native Chew Lam.

Jennifer Dong, a 33-year-employee, said Wednesday that Lam is finally ready to retire. She said he will turn 94 next month.

“It’s about time to retire, right?” said Dong, who said she will return to Hong Kong after the restaurant closes.

Lam was born in Canton, China, and raised there by his mother and grandfather while his father supported them with a Sacramento laundry business, then an herbal medicine shop on I Street. Lam worked the rice fields in China, went to school and in 1947 got married to a woman selected by a matchmaker. They had a son in 1949.

That same year, Lam boarded a Philippine Airlines flight to Manila, then Honolulu and San Francisco. It was his first experience flying. He eventually made his way to Sacramento to help in the herb shop, subsequently working at various jobs, including a restaurant started with $6,000.

He later went looking for a new spot that would ultimately evolve into “King’s,” an Anglicization of the middle word in his birth name: Bing Keung Wong. He took the name Lam during immigration.

The restaurant had mixed success until 1980, when Lam added dim sum to the menu. That move brought in crowds of loyal customers, who made the restaurant a regular stop over the decades.

Mark Glover: 916-321-1184, @markhglover

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