For more than 20 years Judy Wong has been a familiar face for many hungry West Shore residents, but come mid-March she will be hanging up the apron and Colwood’s Jasmine Family Restaurant will be closing its doors. Following the death of the previous landlord of the restaurant’s Island Highway building, the new owners have plans to redevelop the property into an apartment building. No formal lease was in place under the previous owner, Wong said, so she made the bittersweet decision to retire at 71 after more than 50 years in the restaurant industry.
”It’s just a lot of sadness, because this is a neighbourhood restaurant,” she said. “It is time, not that I was anxious to retire or anything, but this is almost like a sign for us to hang up our aprons.”
Wong had considered looking for a new location for the restaurant, but given the increasingly high cost of real estate, and the lack of available properties in the same neighbourhood, she realized it simply was not in the cards.
Neighbourhood and community have been an important part of the restaurant’s success over the years, and her relationship with her customers is what Wong will miss most.
“I have served many generations of families,” she said. “We love the West Shore clientele, they have been the best customers I have ever had in a restaurant … we probably know 90 per cent of our customers, if not more.”
While the restaurant eventually found its true home on the West Shore, Wong said, it began life near Mayfair Shopping Centre in Victoria, a space it occupied for nearly 13 years.
Wong joked that hers was the most successful restaurant on the Colwood site, which was home to three other eateries through the years.
That success is a testament to Wong’s customer service mentality, in her view. She takes great pride in ensuring everyone goes away happy and has been known to chase down unhappy customers in the parking lot to offer gift cards worth far more than their meal, in hopes they give her a second chance to meet their expectations.
“I’ll miss every single person,” Wong said. “I am taking pictures of everyone who comes in so I can put them in a scrap book when we close.”